What is Pro Ecuador's plan for the year ahead?
Beyond Pro Ecuador's policy of strengthening its current work in goods exports promotion, our strategic plan in 2015 has two main lines of attention; attracting investment and exporting services. The first area focuses on attracting investment into the main productive sector, including the forestry sector. We have already developed several activities to attract investment such as business symposiums and roundtables. There are other sectors besides forestry on which we focus our efforts, such as metalworking, software, and ICT. Our efforts go into building bridges between foreign and local companies, for which our 30 branch offices in 25 different countries are essential. Once we achieve that, our work also includes monitoring the materialization of those potential investments. In order to foster a friendly business environment in the country, our work, following government policy, is centered on promoting the benefits of Ecuador in terms of facilities and infrastructure, as well as showcasing its international recognitions as an investment recipient. The government has invested significantly in infrastructure, fiber optics, and related services, which has lifted Ecuador to the next level.
Which were the greatest investments in Ecuador in 2014?
Last year, around of $31 million in greenfield investment was brought into the country. In the same context, there is $283 million of investment that should materialize this year in the wake of the last year's labors. These investments have all been a direct result of Pro Ecuador's work in sectors such as agribusiness, auto parts, and plastics, among others.
What needs to be done to further promote exports among Ecuadorian companies and change the investment culture?
We need to change the mindset of many companies and make them realize what is needed in order to grow. One of the required steps is precisely to invest. There are plenty of opportunities abroad for Ecuadorian companies, which aren't fully developed at the time. But, if they receive the correct support, they'll turn into an engine to change the course of Ecuadorian commerce. Boosting Ecuadorian exports of products and services with technology and added value will also help to diversify the economy, generating further employment. In this regard, the main results of successful business opportunities have been seen through B2B events. Over the last year, we also channel great attention into services exports. We have high hopes in the education sector, for example. Education is one of the sectors set to drive the change in the production matrix. To this end, the government has taken important steps such as creating the City of Knowledge to encourage the role of education and science in the national economy. Another winner is health and medical service; Ecuadorian doctors have an excellent reputation and international patients are aware of the relatively low costs of medical services in Ecuador.
What is your outlook for the future of the Ecuadorian economy in three to five years?
Our main challenges concern investment, without which we will struggle to establish a knowledge-based economy. Competitiveness is another main challenge facing the country. Finally, we face the challenge of ensuring sufficient qualified human resources; the government has already taken key steps in this context with scholarship programs and attracting pre-retirement academic experts to teach at Ecuadorian universities. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. In terms of the development of lined up investments, I am optimistic, while the roundtables we have organized have yielded positive results, as has public sector investment in areas such as infrastructure. This allows me to believe that we are about to harvest what was previously sown.
© The Business Year - June 2015