Ecuador posted a better than expected three percent economic growth rate for the first quarter of 2015. The government had predicted growth of 2.3% while independent economists had predicted 1.8%.
The growth came despite losses of oil revenue due to the worldwide decline in prices which currently stand at 60% of 2014 levels.
The growth rate is one of the highest in South America, where the first quarter average is 1.3%.
Ecuador’s Central Bank said that the numbers show that the country is weathering tough economic times well and that it expected to see the growth continue. “There are bright spots on our horizon,” a bank statement said in response to first quarter growth. “The inclusion of Ecuador among countries receiving trade preferences with the U.S. and our trade agreement with the European Union that will go into effect in 2016 are indications that the economy will remain healthy and continue to gain strength.”
In the January through March quarter for 2015, the non-oil sector grew 3.7 percent according bank statistics. Earlier last week, the bank revised its 2015 inflation prediction, lowering it to 1.9 percent from 4.1 percent. The bank said the adjustment was due to a strengthening dollar and lower oil prices.
In addition to depressed oil prices, some economists expected lower growth numbers due to new import taxes the Ecuadorian government imposed in February. Many of the taxes have been reduced, however, following meetings between government and businesses, which is a factor in the positive growth numbers, according to some.