Bolivia’s Top 10 Exports

Bolivia flag


Located near South America’s mid-western coastline, the Plurinational State of Bolivia shipped US$7.9 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017.

That dollar amount reflects a -35.7% decline since 2013 but a 10.9% uptick from 2016 to 2017.

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.

From a continental perspective, $3.6 billion or 45.4% of Bolivian exports by value were delivered to other Latin American (excluding Mexico) plus Caribbean countries while 33.1% were sold to Asian importers. Bolivia shipped another 10% worth of goods to Europe, with 9.7% arriving in North America.

Given Bolivia’s population of 11.1 million people, its total $7.9 billion worth of 2017 exports translates to roughly $700 for every resident in the South American country.

Bolivia’s unemployment rate was 3.1% in 2017 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 at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Bolivia.

Drilling down to the more granular 4-digit HTS codes, Bolivia’s most valuable export products are petroleum gases ($2.6 billion) followed by zinc ($1.4 billion), gold ($1 billion), precious-metal ores and concentrates ($565.2 million), soya-bean oil cake plus other solid residues ($352.1 million) then unprocessed tin ($325.5 million).

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$2.7 billion (34.7% of total exports)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: $2.2 billion (28.2%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $1.2 billion (15.8%)
  4. Food industry waste, animal fodder: $365.2 million (4.7%)
  5. Tin: $325.7 million (4.1%)
  6. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $226.8 million (2.9%)
  7. Fruits, nuts: $201.3 million (2.6%)
  8. Cereals: $83.1 million (1.1%)
  9. Oil seeds: $76.1 million (1.0%)
  10. Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $48.3 million (0.6%)

Bolivia’s top 10 exports accounted for 95.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.

The mineral fuels including oil category posted the fastest gain in value from 2016 to 2017 via a 24.1% increase, mainly due to improved international sales of petroleum gases and refined petroleum oils.

In second place for improving export sales were gems and precious metals which appreciated by 23.7% thanks to the higher value for Bolivian gold.

Exported ores, slag and ash rose 19.8% year over year notably zinc, lead and tungsten.

Leading the decliners with a -35.4% depreciation was Bolivian food industry waste and animal fodder.


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. Ores, slag, ash: US$2.2 billion (Up by 19.8% since 2016)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $1.7 billion (Up by 22.1%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $1.2 billion (Up by 25.1%)
  4. Food industry waste, animal fodder: $325.6 million (Down by -38.5%)
  5. Tin: $325.2 million (Up by 10.2%)
  6. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $207.8 million (Down by -30.8%)
  7. Fruits, nuts: $179.9 million (Down by -9.5%)
  8. Oil seeds: $51.4 million (Down by -36.4%)
  9. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $34.1 million (Down by -11%)
  10. Cereals: $15.7 million (Down by -41.3%)

Bolivia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of precious-metal and lead ores or concentrates. In turn, these cashflows indicate Bolivia’s strong competitive advantages under the ores, slag and ash category.


Overall, Bolivia realized a -$1.45 billion deficit in 2017 up 7.8% 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$1.6 billion (Up by 25.2% since 2016)
  2. Vehicles: -$1.2 billion (Up by 4.9%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$698.8 million (Up by 5.1%)
  4. Plastics, plastic articles: -$430.9 million (Down by -2.5%)
  5. Iron, steel: -$425.4 million (Up by 7.4%)
  6. Other chemical goods: -$325.1 million (Up by 18.1%)
  7. Articles of iron or steel: -$303.5 million (Up by 21.3%)
  8. Pharmaceuticals: -$191.1 million (Up by 5.5%)
  9. Rubber, rubber articles: -$163.4 million (Up by 8.2%)
  10. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$155.5 million (Down by -12.9%)

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


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.

See also Bolivia’s Top Trading Partners, Brazil’s Top 10 Imports and Top South American Export Countries

Research Sources:
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 20, 2018

Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on August 20, 2018

The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on August 20, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, Accessed on August 20, 2018

Wikipedia, Bolivia. Accessed on August 20, 2018

Wikipedia, Airlines of Bolivia. Accessed on August 20, 2018

Wikipedia, Category: Banks of Bolivia. Accessed on August 20, 2018

Wikipedia, Oil and Gas Companies of Bolivia. Accessed on August 20, 2018