President Lenin Moreno arrived in Italy Monday on the first leg of a three-nation European visit to promote investment in Ecuador.
On Tuesday, he meets with Italian President Sergio Mattarella while meetings are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday with French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutt. Moreno is also scheduled to meet with business organizations and the European Union Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Although Ecuador has offered incentives for foreign investors, the country’s trade ministry says that the results so far have been disappointing. While foreign investment increased to $1.4 billion in 2018 over $619 in 2017, it has fallen to less than $200 million in the first quarter of 2019. Before leaving Quito, Moreno said further steps are needed to attract foreign money. “We have made a start but need further advancements to create a better investment climate in Ecuador,” he said.
The National Assembly is schedule to debate revisions to the country’s labor laws by the end of the year and a special commission is looking into ways to reduce regulation that business leaders say discourage investment. Moreno said that the changes will make investing in Ecuador more attractive.
According to a recent report by the World Bank, inflexible labor laws and red tape are major factors in discouraging investment in Ecuador. The report said that complying with the countries business rules and regulations requires 664 hours a year in Ecuador compared to 330 in other Latin American countries.