Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 6/3/2017

Top Five Reasons to Consider Bolivia

  • The Bolivian economy is still growing.  For the past ten years, the economy has grown by over 4% and Bolivia’s growth rates have led South America for each of the past three years. This has led to a dramatic increase in the size and spending power of the middle class.   
  • Bolivians like American products.  Made in USA generally signals quality and innovation. Bolivians who can afford to are often interested in buying American products for the status that they confer.  For larger local government purchases, governments know that U.S. products may come with more reliable warranties or maintenance plans than those of other countries.
  • Bolivia is rich in non-renewable natural resources.  Mining and hydrocarbons are some of Bolivia’s largest export sectors, and there is still room to grow.  In addition to presently mined minerals such as gold, silver, and tin, Bolivia boasts the largest lithium deposits in the world, which are as of yet untapped.
  • Bolivia’s agriculture sector will grow in the next ten years. In order to do so, Bolivians will need new technology in everything from irrigation to farm equipment.  The Bolivian government is also considering allowing the use of bioengineered crops in order to increase production.
  • The Bolivian government wants to promote Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). President Morales’ new cabinet and advisors know that FDI will be a key to sustaining the Bolivian economy’s growth.  At almost every Embassy meeting with government officials, they mention the importance of encouraging investment from the United States. 

Market Statistics
For the four year period from 2013 through 2016 Bolivia's economy grew at an average yearly rate of 5.3%.  This compares favorably to the 4.5% average yearly growth experienced from 2009 through 2012.  The 2016 increase in GDP is a result of a 7.8% growth in financial services; 8.5% growth in construction; 6.2% growth in manufacturing; 5.7% growth in transport and telecommunications; and 5.3% growth in electricity, water, and gas distribution. 

Market Size 2015-16

Indicator

2015

2016

Nominal GDP

$33.3 billion

$34.1 billion

GDP Real Annual Growth Rate

4.8%

4.3%

GDP per capita (PPP)

$6,954

$7,218

GDP per capita

$3,071

$3,092

Exports

$8.9 billion

$7.2 billion

Imports

$9.7 billion

$8.4 billion

Total Imports from the U.S.

$1.1 billion

$0.8 billion

Inflation

3.0%

4.0%

Source: National Bureau of Statistics (INE) and International Monetary Fund  

  • Accumulated inflation for 2016 was 4.0%, one percent above the 2015 figure.  The increase was due to inflationary pressure on food prices.  Non-food items registered an overall decrease of 0.5% from 2.9% in 2015 to 2.4 in 2016. The Central Bank estimates that the rate of inflation for 2017 will be around 5%.
  • Total investment in Bolivia increased in 2016, from $8.6 billion to $8.9 billion.  Private domestic investment rose to $1.7 billion in 2016.  Public investment increased from $6.5 billion in 2015 to $6.8 billion in 2016, due mostly to increases in investment in state-run companies, particularly in the energy sector.  Also, net foreign direct investment (FDI), decreased from $0.5 billion in 2015 to $0.4 billion in 2016, reflecting a general trend to depend more on public versus private investment.
  • Due to the decline in commodity prices (affecting Bolivia’s natural gas exports in particular), total Bolivian exports decreased by nearly 19% in 2016, reaching $7.2 billion, after exports reached $13 billion in 2014.  2016 top export sectors were: manufactured goods (37%), hydrocarbons (29%), minerals (26%), and agricultural products (6%).  The top exports by individual product were: natural gas (28% of total exports), zinc (13.6%), soy (11.8%), gold (10.8%), silver (8.6%), and tin (4.1%).
  • Bolivia’s top export markets in 2016 were Brazil (18.9%), United States (13.4%), Argentina (11.2%), Colombia (8.7%), China (6.6%), Japan (5.8%), South Korea (5.3%), Peru (4.7%), and Belgium (4.5%).
  • From 2015 to 2016, Bolivian imports declined by 13.0% to $9.6 billion.  31% of Bolivia's total imports were industrial supplies and inputs (for example, replacement parts, chemicals, and other production items).  Other major imports are: capital goods (22%), transport equipment and parts (17.6%), consumable goods (13%), fuel (8.5%), and food (7.5%).  Top import products within these categories were machinery and mechanical appliances (15.8% of total imports), chemical products (14.2%), vehicles (12.8%), fuels and oils (8.9%), food (7.1%), and minerals (6.1%).  Bolivia also imports significant quantities of steel, electrical machinery equipment and parts, and plastics and plastic products.
  • Exports to the U.S. decreased 8.8% from $1.1 billion in 2015 to $1.0 billion in 2016, mainly due to the decrease of gold and food, while imports from the U.S. decreased 20.0% from $1.0 billion in 2015 to $0.8 billion in 2016. In 2016, the U.S. supplied 9.7% of Bolivia's imports and received 14.0% of its exports.  In 2016, Bolivia had a total trade deficit of $1.2 billion.  

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Bolivia Trade Development and Promotion