QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador's economy grew 1.5 percent year-on-year in the last quarter of 2016, buoyed by a dynamic refining sector which allowed the oil-producing country to emerge from an economic recession, outgoing President Rafael Correa said on Saturday.
Compared with the third quarter of 2016, the smallest OPEC member state's economy also expanded, growing 1.7 percent. "Without a doubt, with whatever criterion you look at this, Ecuador has overcome the recession," Correa said from the coastal province of Los Rios, adding that the fourth quarter of last year was the first to show year-on-year growth after five quarters of contraction.
"We're leaving the next government with an economy that is growing and stabilized," added Correa, who will leave office on May 24 after a decade in power. He will pass the baton to ally Lenin Moreno, who this month won Ecuador's presidential election, bucking a shift to the right in South America.
Ecuador's economy was hit by the fall in oil prices, a strong dollar that hurts the dollarized export-oriented country, and a severe earthquake last year.
Correa did not give a GDP figure for full-year 2016, but said Ecuador could grow more than the 1.42 percent projected by the central bank.
Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Matthew Lewis