THE THICK OF IT

Ecuador 2014 | EXECUTIVE GUIDE | REVIEW: LEGAL

Ecuador is seeking an efficient and effective set of laws and regulations to drive the economy and encourage foreign investment in the country.

LEGAL-POLITICAL SYSTEM

Ecuador is a democratic republic the constitution of which was enacted in 2008. It recognizes the classic division of powers: a legislative branch, an executive branch, and a judicial branch. The president is elected for a period of four years, with the possibility of immediate reelection. The National Assembly consists of 137 representatives, also elected for terms of four years. The judges of the National Court of Justice are appointed for a period of nine years, and one-third of them are reappointed every three years. There is a Constitutional Court, which is responsible for interpreting the rules of the Constitution and reviewing the acts of the state, including judgments of courts and tribunals that may violate constitutional rules.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

The rules and regulations applicable to foreign investment currently in force in Ecuador include the following:

• Code on Production, Trade, and Investments and its regulations.

• Regulation 921-95 dated March 1995 as amended and issued by the Central Bank of Ecuador, which regulates the registration of foreign investment.

• Law on Companies.

As a general principle, the Constitution of Ecuador provides foreign nationals with the same rights as Ecuadoreans. Decision 291 ensures that foreign investors have the same rights and obligations as local counterparts, with the exceptions provided for in the law of each member country. Foreign investors do not require prior authorization to invest in Ecuador, whether to invest in the capital of a company or as a financial investment through the stock exchange. Foreigners are only required to register their investment with the central bank, mostly for statistical purposes.

Foreign investors may freely remit to their country of origin—or to any other country—the profits deriving from their investment, as well as any proceeds obtained from the sale thereof. No authorization from any organization is required. Both foreign individuals and entities may acquire real property in Ecuador. Generally, all sectors of the economy are open to foreign investment without limitation. There are only certain specific restrictions for foreign investment in areas relating to strategic sectors (namely oil, power, potable water), national defense, and security.

VEHICLES FOR INVESTMENT

The vehicles usually used for local or foreign investment are corporations (SA), limited liability companies (SRL), and branches of foreign companies, all mainly regulated by the Law on Companies. Below is a comparative list of the main characteristics and requirements of each type of entity.