Bolivia’s Top 10 Exports

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Located near South America’s mid-western coastline, the Plurinational State of Bolivia shipped US$7.06 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017.

That dollar amount reflects a -42.2% decrease since 2013 and a -0.4% dip from $7.08 billion in 2016.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Bolivia’s exported goods plus services represent 24.2% of total Bolivian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

Data from 2016 shows that $3.4 billion or 47.5% of Bolivian exports by value was delivered to other Latin American countries excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Another 24.4% were sold to importers in Asia, 15.6% to North America and 10.8% to Europe. Smaller percentages of Bolivia’s total exports went to Oceania (2%) and Africa (0.03%).

Given Bolivia’s population of 11.1 million people, its total $7.1 billion in 2016 exports translates to roughly $650 for every resident in that country.

Bolivia’s unemployment rate was forecast to be 4% as of June 2018 according to Trading Economics.

Bolivia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Bolivian global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Bolivia.

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Bolivia’s most valuable export products are petroleum gases followed by zinc, gold, soya-bean oil cake plus other solid residues, lead ores and concentrates, soya-bean oil then unprocessed tin.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$2.5 billion (35.5% of total exports)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: $1.5 billion (21.7%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $850.1 million (12%)
  4. Food industry waste, animal fodder: $532.5 million (7.5%)
  5. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $348.2 million (4.9%)
  6. Fruits, nuts: $277.2 million (3.9%)
  7. Tin: $258.8 million (3.7%)
  8. Cereals: $99.6 million (1.4%)
  9. Oil seeds: $91.1 million (1.3%)
  10. Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $60.2 million (0.9%)

Bolivia’s top 10 exports accounted for 92.9% of the overall value of its global shipments.

The salt, sulphur, stone and cement category posted the fastest gain in value from 2016 to 2017 via a 41.6% increase.

In second place for improving export sales were fruits and nuts which appreciated by 25.6% led by coconuts and bananas.

Exported mineral fuels including oil went up 14.3% year over year.

Leading the decliners with a -17.2% depreciation was Bolivian ores, slag and ash, notably for zinc and precious-metals ores and concentrates.

Advantages

The following types of Bolivian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$2.3 billion (Up by 59.1% since 2016)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: $1.5 billion (Down by -17.2%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $795.1 million (Down by -16.3%)
  4. Food industry waste, animal fodder: $498.1 million (Down by -5.8%)
  5. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $325.2 million (Up by 8.3%)
  6. Tin: $258.4 million (Down by -12.4%)
  7. Fruits, nuts: $256.0 million (Up by 28.8%)
  8. Oil seeds: $67.9 million (Down by -15.9%)
  9. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $34.5 million (Down by -10.1%)
  10. Cereals: $34.4 million (Up by 28.5%)

Bolivia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of petroleum gases, petroleum oils (both crude and refined), and other mineral fuels-related products. In turn, these cashflows indicate Bolivia’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil category.

Opportunities

Overall, Bolivia realized a -$249.2 million deficit in 2017 down -81.5% from the -$1.3 billion in red ink one year earlier.

Below are exports from Bolivia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Bolivia’s goods trail Bolivian importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$1.3 billion (Down by -0.6% since 2016)
  2. Vehicles: -$1.1 billion (Down by -2.9%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$614.7 million (Down by -7.5%)
  4. Plastics, plastic articles: -$327.3 million (Down by -26%)
  5. Iron, steel: -$291.8 million (Down by -26.4%)
  6. Articles of iron or steel: -$251.9 million (Up by 0.7%)
  7. Other chemical goods: -$207.6 million (Down by -24.6%)
  8. Miscellaneous food preparations: -$156.3 million (Up by 13.3%)
  9. Pharmaceuticals: -$150.3 million (Down by -17%)
  10. Rubber, rubber articles: -$146.6 million (Down by -2.9%)

Bolivia has highly negative net exports and therefore competitive disadvantages for computers and other types of machinery.

Companies

Bolivian Export Companies

Not one Bolivian corporation ranks among companies listed by Forbes Global 2000.

Wikipedia lists some exporting companies from Bolivia. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz (financial services)
  • Banco Nacional de Bolivia (financial services)
  • Boliviana de Aviación (airlines)
  • Línea Aérea Amaszonas (airlines)
  • Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos (air cargo)
  • YPFB (oil, gas)

Bolivia has two capital cities. La Paz is the de facto working capital, while Sucre is constitutionally the legal capital city.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Bolivia’s Top Trading Partners, Highest Value Bolivian Export Products and Capital Facts for La Pas and Sucre, Bolivia

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 23, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on June 23, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 23, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 23, 2018

Wikipedia, Bolivia. Accessed on June 23, 2018

Wikipedia, Oil and Gas Companies of Bolivia. Accessed on June 23, 2018

Wikipedia, Oil and Gas Companies of Bolivia. Accessed on June 23, 2018

Wikipedia, Airlines of Bolivia. Accessed on June 23, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 23, 2018