Following two days of meetings with President Rafael Correa and other government officials, business leaders say the government is listening and appears to be open to making changes to improve the business and investment climate in Ecuador.
Business groups had requested the meeting to discuss a variety of issues, including government red tape, tariffs on raw material imports, taxes, and labor contracts.
At the conclusion of the meeting, businesses and the government agreed that business leaders would submit detailed proposals for changes on 40 items to be delivered in early April.
Richard Martinez, President of the Federation of Chambers of Industry, said he was pleased with the results of the meeting. “Business and government will not agree on everything,” he said, “but there are many areas of common interest where the government is showing flexibility.”
Martinez said business leaders understand the difficult decisions that the government must make. “Because of low oil prices and a strong dollar, these are hard times,” he said. “Our point is that these are difficult times for businesses too and that we can help to strengthen the economy if we can reach agreements to relax regulations that have created a difficult business environment.”
Key points for business owners are elimination of tariffs on imported raw materials needed in the production process in local industry. “We understand that the government is trying to protect the economy with these fees due to currency inequities, but they are hurting Ecuadorian businesses which need these products, and this hurts the national economy,” Martinez said.
Another priority issues for business leaders are recently revised rules on employment contracts which, they say, hurt both employers and workers. “They limit the choices of employers and are having the effect of hurting workers who may not be hired,” Martinez said.