Bolivia’s National Statistics Institute (INE) has reported that Bolivia exports hit a seven-year high in May, in a sign that the country is moving towards recovery following the economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The report, published on Wednesday, highlighted a $638 million surplus for Bolivia exports last month, with the country having reported a $29 million deficit for the same month last year, at a moment when the pandemic was causing widespread economic unrest (all figures in USD).
According to Gary Rodríguez, manager of the private Bolivian Institute of Foreign Trade (IBC), the results do not simply reflect high commodity prices, but are also due to a 23% uptick in export volume, with non-traditional exports growing to represent 26% of total exports.
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“Thanks to the growth in their value and volume, non-traditional exports this year are at their best, above even their highest levels of the time of the international boom,” Rodríguez was reported saying by local media.
While traditional Bolivia exports consist of hydrocarbons, including petroleum oil and natural gas, non-traditional export goods include agricultural products such as soy and derived products, nuts, sunflowers and related products, meat, wood, bananas, and coffee, as well as processed goods such as leather and jewelry.
According to Rodríguez, the total value of non-traditional exports exceeded more than $1 billion in May — driven by a 61% rise in the value of goods and a 19% increase in export volumes.
Strong Bolivia exports highlight investment opportunities
These positive results for Bolivia exports highlight the significant potential that the Bolivian market offers to investors.
Despite not being the most well-recognized destination for foreign direct investment (FDI), Bolivia has made significant economic progress over recent years, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth reaching a high of 6.8% and never dropping below 3.4% between 2008 and 2018.
While the hydrocarbon sector has traditionally been one of the biggest draws for investors, the agriculture and manufacturing sectors also offer notable opportunities — as their growing contribution to total Bolivia exports demonstrate.
Beyond that, Bolivia is also home to a growing tech industry, which is ripe for investment and can be expected to contribute to post-pandemic economic recovery.
With Bolivia currently awaiting official acceptance into the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) — a 30-year-old economic integration initiative that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay — locally-based businesses will also soon be able to count on preferential access to a wide range of global markets.
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