A landlocked country in western-central South America, the Plurinational State of Bolivia shipped US$9 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That figure represents roughly 0.05% of overall global exports estimated at $17.546 trillion one year earlier.
From a continental perspective, almost half (48.6%) of Bolivian exports by value were delivered to fellow Latin American countries excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Another 32.5% was sold to Asian importers, with 8.8% going to Asia and 8% to North America. At 2%, a smaller percentage went to Oceania led by Australia.
Bolivia’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Bolivia’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Bolivian shipments by dollar value during 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Bolivian exports.
- Brazil: US$1.7 billion (19.2% of total Bolivian exports)
- Argentina: $1.4 billion (16%)
- India: $722.9 million (8.1%)
- Japan: $669.6 million (7.5%)
- South Korea: $577 million (6.4%)
- United States: $502.9 million (5.6%)
- Colombia: $469 million (5.2%)
- China: $458 million (5.1%)
- Peru: $365.2 million (4.1%)
- United Arab Emirates: $361.7 million (4%)
- Netherlands: $240.4 million (2.7%)
- Canada: $196 million (2.2%)
- Belgium: $193.8 million (2.2%)
- Australia: $172.8 million (1.9%)
- Spain: $168.2 million (1.9%)
Over nine-tenths (92%) of Bolivian exports in 2018 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
The Netherlands increased their import purchases of Bolivia’s exported goods at the highest percentage, up 48% from 2017 to 2018. Peru boosted its imports from Bolivia by 32.5% year over year, trailed by India (up 31.9%), Spain (up 25.5%), Colombia (up 24.8%) then Canada (up 23.1%).
Leading the cutbacks from 2017 were Belgium (down -21.9%) and the United States (down -13.5%).
Bolivia realized an overall -$1 billion deficit in 2018, down -28.9% from the -$1.5 billion in red ink one year earlier.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
In 2018, Bolivia incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- China: -US$1.6 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
- Chile: -$382 million
- Peru: -$304.3 million
- Mexico: -$233.6 million
- Sweden: -$222.8 million
- Germany: -$182.9 million
- Singapore: -$165.7 million
- France: -$149.8 million
- Italy: -$130.4 million
- United States: -$123.8 million
Among Bolivia’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Bolivian deficits with Singapore (up 1,443%), France (up 94.6%) and Sweden (up 57.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Bolivia’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Bolivia to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
In 2018, Bolivia earned the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- India: US$570.7 million (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
- South Korea: $495.8 million
- Japan: $363.3 million
- United Arab Emirates: $356.2 million
- Argentina: $273.5 million
- Colombia: $261.6 million
- Belgium: $169.1 million
- Australia: $167.2 million
- Netherlands: $163.9 million
- Canada: $150.6 million
Among Bolivia’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Bolivian surpluses with Argentina (up 308%), Colombia (up 73.9%) and Japan (up 63.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These positive cashflow streams indicate Bolivia’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Bolivia to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Bolivian Trading Partners
Not one Bolivian corporation ranks among 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)
See also Bolivia’s Top 10 Exports, Bolivia’s Top 10 Imports and Top South American Export Countries
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on January 12, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on January 12, 2019
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on January 12, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on January 12, 2019
Wikipedia, Bolivia. Accessed on January 12, 2019
Wikipedia, Airlines of Bolivia. Accessed on January 12, 2019
Wikipedia, Category: Banks of Bolivia. Accessed on January 12, 2019
Wikipedia, Oil and Gas Companies of Bolivia. Accessed on January 12, 2019