Ecuador is substantially dependent on its petroleum resources, which have accounted for more than half of the country's export earnings and approximately one-third of public sector revenues in recent years. In 1999/2000, Ecuador suffered a severe economic crisis, with GDP contracting by 5.3%.
Poverty increased significantly, the banking system collapsed, and Ecuador defaulted on its external debt. In March 2000, the Congress approved a series of structural reforms that also provided for the adoption of the US dollar as legal tender. Dollarization stabilized the economy, and positive growth returned in the years that followed, helped by high oil prices, remittances, and increased non-traditional exports.
From 2002-06 the economy grew an average of 5.2% per year, the highest five-year average in 25 years. After moderate growth in 2007, the economy reached a growth rate of 7.2% in 2008, in large part due to high global petroleum prices and increased public sector investment.
President Rafael CORREA, who took office in January 2007, defaulted in December 2008 on Ecuador's sovereign debt, which, with a total face value of approximately US$3.2 billion, represented about 80% of Ecuador's private external debt.
In May 2009, Ecuador bought back 91% of its "defaulted" bonds via an international auction. Economic policies under the CORREA administration - including an announcement in late 2009 of its intention to terminate 13 bilateral investment treaties, including one with the United States - have generated economic uncertainty and discouraged private investment.
The Ecuadorian economy contracted 0.4% in 2009 due to the global financial crisis and to the sharp decline in world oil prices and remittance flows.
Growth picked up to a 3.7% rate in 2010, according to Ecuadorian government estimates.