Ecuador 's legal framework, which supports domestic and foreign investment, had already undergone major changes since the beginning of this decade. However, the present government has gone further by removing those impediments that were affecting the smooth flow of resources to Ecuador. Basically, all limitations to the remittance of profits were also removed. Former President of the World Bank, Lewis Preston, acknowledged, "the Government has liberalized the foreign investment system, which provides equal treatment for Ecuadorian capital and for that of foreign companies in terms of tariffs, taxes and other fiscal incentives".
The Government has, in fact, eliminated barriers to the repatriation of profits and, at the same time is promoting investment in sectors that had previously been off limits for foreign investment and transfer technology have been drastically simplified. In mining, for example, thanks to the law governing that sector since 1991, the potential for foreign investment has grown considerably.
The results of this opening are clear to see: 12 of the 20 largest mining companies in the world are exploring and exploiting deposits of gold, silver and copper in various parts of Ecuador, with an initial investment of over 20 million dollars. The government estimates that, within no more than five years, the mining sector will be producing 500 million dollars annually.
A solid legal framework backs the policy of openness toward foreign capital in new, interesting areas of activity. The first legal guarantee for investors is the Constitution itself. Then there are other current laws and regulations supporting foreign investment, such as Decision 292 of the Cartagena Agreement, and the Regulations on Foreign Investment, Technology Transfer Contracts, Trademarks, Patents, Licenses and Royalties [January 1993], as well as other complementary provisions. Moreover, free remittance of profits and the possibility of repatriating assets without restrictions have stimulated foreign investment in sectors which had never received any significant input, such as exports of non-traditional products, forestry and tourism. This is partly due to the fact that, along with the opening up, procedures for foreign investment have been streamlined. For example, in most cases, it is no longer necessary to apply for authorization from the Ministry of Industry and Trade to invest in Ecuador.