Bolivia’s Top 10 Exports

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Bolivia shipped US$7.1 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016, up by 33.7% since 2009 when the Great Recession kicked in but down by -18.8% from 2015 to 2016.

Bolivia’s top 10 exports accounted for 94.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Bolivia’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $78.4 billion in 2016 (on a purchasing power parity basis). Therefore, exports accounted for about 9% of total Bolivian economic output.

From a continental perspective, $3.4 billion or 47.4% of Bolivian exports by value were delivered to other Latin American (excluding Mexico) or Caribbean countries while 24.3% were sold to Asian importers. Bolivia shipped another 15.5% worth of goods to North America, with 10.8% arriving in Europe.

Given Bolivia’s population of 11 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 7.5% in 2016 compared to 7.4% one year earlier according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.

Bolivia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Bolivian global shipments during 2016. 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 number one exported product is petroleum gas followed by zinc and gold.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$2.2 billion (31% of total exports)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: $1.8 billion (26.1%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $1 billion (14.2%)
  4. Food industry waste, animal fodder: $565 million (8%)
  5. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $316.1 million (4.5%)
  6. Tin: $295.2 million (4.2%)
  7. Fruits, nuts: $220.8 million (3.1%)
  8. Oil seeds: $104.1 million (1.5%)
  9. Cereals: $91.2 million (1.3%)
  10. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $51.2 million (0.7%)

Bolivian gems and precious metals posted the fastest gain in value up 392.8%, driven by powerful increases in exported gold, jewelry and silver.

In second place for improving export sales were fruits and nuts which were up 155.5% led by coconuts and bananas.

Exported cereals, particularly buckwheat, millet and canary seed posted the third-fastest gain in value up 72.8%.

There was only one declining top category, oil seeds which fell by -12.3%.


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 is 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. Ores, slag, ash: US$1.8 billion (Up by 24.8% since 2009)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $1.4 billion (Down by -11.1%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $949.6 million (Up by 593.2%)
  4. Food industry waste, animal fodder: $529.1 million (Up by 54%)
  5. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $300.2 million (Up by 21.7%)
  6. Tin: $295.1 million (Up by 42.5%)
  7. Fruits, nuts: $198.8 million (Up by 161.2%)
  8. Oil seeds: $80.7 million (Down by -21.9%)
  9. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $38.4 million (Up by 134.5%)
  10. Vegetables: $32.8 million (Down by -6.3%)

Bolivia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of ores, slag and ash–notably zinc, lead and copper. In turn, these cashflows indicate Bolivia’s strong competitive advantages under the ores, slag and ash product category.


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. Overall, Bolivia realized a -$1.3 billion deficit in 2016 reversing an $887.8 million trade surplus during 2009.

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$1.3 billion (Up by 96.6% since 2009)
  2. Vehicles : -$1.1 billion (Up by 110.7%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$664.8 million (Up by 157.8%)
  4. Plastics, plastic articles: -$442.1 million (Up by 114.2%)
  5. Iron, steel: -$396.3 million (Up by 47.8%)
  6. Other chemical goods: -$275.3 million (Up by 34.3%)
  7. Articles of iron or steel: -$250.1 million (Up by 25.6%)
  8. Pharmaceuticals: -$181.1 million (Up by 106.3%)
  9. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$178.5 million (Up by 137.3%)
  10. Rubber, rubber articles: -$151 million (Up by 126.4%)

Bolivia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for computers and other types of machinery.


Bolivian Export Companies

Not one Bolivian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015.

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

  • Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos (air cargo)
  • Boliviana de Aviación (airlines)
  • Línea Aérea Amaszonas (airlines)
  • Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz (financial services)
  • Banco Nacional de Bolivia (financial services)
  • 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 February 25, 2017

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 25, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on February 25, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 25, 2017

Wikipedia, Category: Banks of Bolivia. Accessed on February 25, 2017

Wikipedia, Oil and Gas Companies of Bolivia. Accessed on February 25, 2017

Wikipedia, Airlines of Bolivia. Accessed on February 25, 2017

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 25, 2017