ECUADOR DIGESTEcuador scores big gains in Human Development Index

Mar 17, 2013

Ecuador recorded the third largest gain among Latin American nations in the United Nations 2013 Human Development Index rankings.

The index, which was based on statistics from 2007 through 2012, measures a country’s educational system, quality and length of life and the economic well being of its population.

Ecuador recorded a 14 place jump in the world rankings since 2006, moving ahead of Colombia among the Andean nations, ranking 89 out of more than 200 countries. Peru still ranks highest in the Andean region at 77.

Norway tops the index, followed by Australia and the U.S.

The largest improvements in the index were recorded in countries south of the equator, especially in  sub-Sahara Africa and South America.

Correa asks for annulment of investment treaty

Ecuador's socialist president Rafael Correa presented a bill on Monday asking lawmakers to annul an investment protection treaty with the United States, which would prevent U.S. companies from filing for arbitration against the Andean country.

Correa, who won a sweeping re-election victory in mid-February, said over the weekend that the OPEC-member country could go bankrupt because arbitration tribunals always rule that Ecuador should pay damages to foreign investors when there is a dispute.

"These (investment) treaties favor foreign investors over human beings. Anyone can take us to an arbitration tribunal without first going to a national court," he said on Saturday.

Since first taking office in 2007, Correa has alienated investors by defaulting on $3.2 billion of debt, claiming that it was the result of “corrupt” international agencies and former Ecuadorian government officials. He has also rewritten contracts with oil companies to provide more money for national infrastructure projects. Since 2008, Ecuador has spent more on social development projects than any other country in Latin America.

Days after his re-election victory, Correa said arbitration tribunals were "pimps" whose main role was to protect foreign investors.

The ruling party currently needs support from opposition lawmakers to approve laws, but a new legislative assembly will be inaugurated in mid-May in which Correa's party will have a majority of seats.

Ecuador has signed 23 investment protection treaties, which has allowed foreign companies to file 39 arbitration requests at the World Bank's International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), state-run media said on Monday.

Lan Ecuador expands service to Manta

Lan Ecuador has added a Manta –  Quito flight to its national service. The first flight from Quito landed in Manta on Thursday. The airline says it plans to operate six or seven flights a week to Manta from Quito, with returns. Other Lan routes in Ecuador are to Guayaquil, Cuenca, Baltra and Coca.

According to Manta airport oficials, the city has lacked adequate air connections since Icaro Airlines went backrupt in 2011.

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