Doing Business in Ecuador
Exporting to Ecuador
President Obama announced the National Export Initiative (NEI) in 2010, with the goal of doubling exports by 2014. U.S. embassies are committed to supporting U.S. companies to start exporting or grow their exports to Ecuador. In this section, you’ll find a quick description of Ecuador as an export market and some suggestions for getting started.
For more information on the National Export Initiative, visit http://www.export.gov.
For more detailed information see: Ecuador Commercial Guide for US Companies (pdf 598kb)
Ecuador, with a population of 15.8 million inhabitants, is a small-to-medium market for U.S. exports. In 2013, U.S. exports to Ecuador accounted for $7.5 billion, a 15.8% increase from 2012. The U.S. is Ecuador’s top trading partner. Ecuador’s real annual GDP growth was 4.5% in 2013, with nominal GDP totaling $93.58 billion in 2013. Despite its unpredictable economic and trade policies, Ecuador remains a market with significant potential for U.S. firms, as Ecuadorian consumers view American products as attractive and high-quality. Ecuador is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and CAN (Andean Community of Nations).
Ecuador’s trade policy has been unpredictable recently, with the government of this dollarized, petroleum-based economy searching for ways to improve its trade balance. Following the imposition of safeguards in January 2009 (which were removed in July 2010), the government sought to decrease imports and promote exports through a new Production Code that includes a variety of measures such as import substitution, enforcement of standards and sanitary and phytosanitary requirements, and investment incentives. In December 2013 Ecuador enacted new technical regulations on imports which impacted a wide variety of consumer goods. The regulations require exporters to obtain conformity assessment certifications from entities accredited by the Ecuadorian Accreditation Organism (OAE). In many cases a certificate is required for each and every shipment. Historically, Ecuador has faced a number of challenges, including political instability (although the current president has served since 2007), corruption, and unpredictability of government policies affecting trade and investment. U.S. companies should also be aware that the business cultures can vary greatly between the highlands (centered in Quito, the political capital) and the coast (centered in Guayaquil, traditionally the business capital).
Despite these cautionary notes, Ecuador remains a market with significant potential for U.S. firms. Following Ecuador’s economic crisis in the late 1990s, it adopted the U.S. dollar as legal tender in 2000. Ecuadorian consumers are favorably disposed to the quality of U.S. products, with nearly a third of imports deriving from the U.S. (Jan-Sep 2013). The U.S. is Ecuador’s largest trade partner with $18.66 billion of bilateral trade in 2013 (USITC).
Contact your local Small Business Development Center (SBDCs). Starting a business can be a challenge, but there is help for you in your area. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are partnerships primarily between the government and colleges/universities administered by the Small Business Administration and aims at giving educational services for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Investors: Getting Started
If you are considering investment in Ecuador, here are some steps you may wish to consider as you get started:
- Contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center for advice and support on exporting to Ecuador. Contact a Trade Specialist near you.
- Visit Ecuador’s Invest Ecuador website
- Contact local U.S. business support organizations, such as the Ecuadorian-American Chambers of Commerce in Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Ambato, and Manta.
- Contact your local Small Business Development Center (SBDCs). Starting a business can be a challenge, but there is help for you in your area. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are partnerships primarily between the government and colleges/universities administered by the Small Business Administration and aims at giving educational services for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
- Subscribe to our embassy Facebook page or Twitter feed
Visa Requirements to Enter Ecuador
If you are a U.S. citizen wishing to enter Ecuador, you must present a U.S. passport with at least six months remaining validity. Ecuadorian immigration officials also sometimes request evidence of return or onward travel, such as an airline ticket.
Under Ecuadorian law, U.S. citizens traveling for business or tourism on a tourist passport can enter Ecuador for up to 90 days per calendar year without a visa. Extensions for up to another 90 days can be requested through the provincial migration offices.
If you are planning a visit longer than 90 days, you must obtain a visa in advance of your arrival.
More detailed information and requirements for visas in Ecuador can be found at the website of Ecuador's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You can also visit the website for the Embassy of Ecuador in the United States for the most current visa information, or for further information regarding entry, exit or customs requirements. If you stay in Ecuador beyond the terms of your visa, you may be deported or barred from re-entering Ecuador in the future. A substantial fine may be imposed by Ecuadorian Immigration prior to your departure.
Make sure to check the current State Department travel advisories.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is an important anti-corruption tool designed to discourage corrupt business practices in favor of free and fair markets. The FCPA prohibits promising, offering, giving or authorizing giving anything of value to a foreign government official where the purpose is to obtain or retain business. These prohibitions apply to U.S. persons, both individuals and companies, and companies that are listed on U.S. exchanges. The statute also requires companies publicly traded in the U.S. to keep accurate books and records and implement appropriate internal controls.
More information in FCPA
A party to a transaction seeking to know whether a proposed course of conduct would violate the FCPA can take advantage of the opinion procedure established by the statue. Within 30 days of receiving a description of a proposed course of conduct in writing, the Attorney General will provide the party with a written opinion on whether the proposed conduct would violate the FCPA. Not only do opinions provide the requesting party with a rebuttable presumption that the conduct does not violate the FCPA, but DOJ publishes past opinions which can provide guidance for other companies facing similar situations.
More information on the DOJ opinion procedure - pdf (133 kb).
Commercial Specialist: Sofía Zárate
Commercial Assistant: Sandra Tinajero
Please send inquiries about imports of U.S. food and agricultural products to AgQuito@usda.gov
For inquiries about consular processes (visas) please write to ConsularQuito@state.gov
- BusinessUSA.gov is the U.S. Government's official web portal to support business start-ups, growth, financing, and exporting.