Guayaquil 2012 EDITORIAL FOCUS

Historic city finds new role in 21st century

With the United States turning more and more to Asia, the great driver of future global growth, and with Latin America booming, so the major cities of the Pacific Rim are becoming magnets for trade, investment and development. Few are better placed than Guayaquil, the business and communications center of Ecuador. And Guayaquil has an additional advantage – a dynamic pro-business environment where the city fathers are determined to make things happen. In fact, the city has been pushing modernization and infrastructure development for several years.

Ecuador enjoyed GDP growth of 5.8% in 2011 and expects another 3.8% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. As the country’s economic powerhouse, Guayaquil reflects this progress with impressive urban renewal projects and commercial and residential development, making it one of South America’s most attractive locations to live and work.

Marking this exciting new phase, we have chosen this moment to highlight Guayaquil in a special report to be published with the prestigious FOREIGN POLICY magazine, whose readers include U.S. President Barack Obama and other global decision makers, plus senior international businessmen. They will welcome a unique opportunity to learn in detail about Guayaquil’s plans and to hear how private-sector leaders assess the challenges and opportunities ahead. This special report will describe the city’s progress, and address a number of key questions:

Gateway to the Pacific

What are the key infrastructure assets that Guayaquil offers traders and investors? Both the port and the airport have recently benefited from substantial modernization and expansion programs, so what advantages do these now present to multinational companies that may be evaluating competing location options? And as the regional economy grows in the years to come, how will these key logistics facilities be expanded or augmented to make sure they retain and improve their competitive edge? Will this create opportunities for investors, and if so where? As we assess this crucial “gateway” question, we will seek the views of local businessmen with first-hand experience. We will also detail the logistics, services and financial eco-system supporting the port and airport, and identify opportunities going forward.

Looking out; looking in

Guayaquil is looking firmly to the outside world, but it is also closely connected to economic activity in the rest of Ecuador and beyond. Some 70% of the country’s foreign trade passes through the city. This means that the growing efficiency and dynamism of the major coastal logistics hub can leverage various other economic sectors. Traditional fresh exports like bananas, shrimps, fish and flowers all benefit enormously from enhanced logistics, as can other export stables like coffee, timber and oil. We will assess this scenario, together with the opportunities for boosting local added value. We will also ask how Ecuador’s focus on sustainable production can increase potential in global markets.

All work and no play…

Guayaquil is Ecuador’s business capital, but it’s also finding increasing favor as a tourist option. Founded 1538, the city has been undergoing a facelift, renovating its riverside promenade and tidying up historic neighborhoods. The mix of traditional local hotels and major international chains offers a wide range of options, and as befits a major fisheries center there are wonderful beachfront seafood restaurants. Besides enjoying the city, many tourists use it as a base to visit nearby nature reserves and of course the Galapagos Islands, just two hours away. Besides describing these delights, our report will examine the opportunities for local and international companies in this emerging destination.

Where there’s a will…

Perhaps Guayaquil’s greatest asset is intangible. It is the driving determination of city authorities to succeed, by making Guayaquil a great place to live and an excellent location for business. Ecuador still suffers from excessive bureaucracy that can slow things down, but in Guayaquil the local leaders have decided to get government out of the way. This can-do attitude makes for an exceptionally business-friendly atmosphere, and many of the recent development projects have featured public-private partnerships. Our report will describe what Guayaquil has done to attract investors and help them succeed, and also hear city leaders about their plans for further reform.