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Bolivia Economy Profile

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Economy - overview

Bolivia is a resource rich country with strong growth attributed to captive markets for natural gas exports – to Brazil and Argentina. However, the country remains one of the least developed countries in Latin America because of state-oriented policies that deter investment.

Following an economic crisis during the early 1980s, reforms in the 1990s spurred private investment, stimulated economic growth, and cut poverty rates. The period 2003-05 was characterized by political instability, racial tensions, and violent protests against plans - subsequently abandoned - to export Bolivia's newly discovered natural gas reserves to large Northern Hemisphere markets. In 2005-06, the government passed hydrocarbon laws that imposed significantly higher royalties and required foreign firms then operating under risk-sharing contracts to surrender all production to the state energy company in exchange for a predetermined service fee; the laws engendered much public debate. High commodity prices between 2010 and 2014 sustained rapid growth and large trade surpluses with GDP growing 6.8% in 2013 and 5.4% in 2014. The global decline in oil prices that began in late 2014 exerted downward pressure on the price Bolivia receives for exported gas and resulted in lower GDP growth rates - 4.9% in 2015 and 4.3% in 2016 - and losses in government revenue as well as fiscal and trade deficits.

A lack of foreign investment in the key sectors of mining and hydrocarbons, along with conflict among social groups, pose challenges for the Bolivian economy. In 2015, President Evo MORALES expanded efforts to court international investment and boost Bolivia’s energy production capacity. MORALES passed an investment law and promised not to nationalize additional industries in an effort to improve the investment climate. In early 2016, the Government of Bolivia approved the 2016-2020 National Economic and Social Development Plan aimed at maintaining growth of 5% and reducing poverty.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$83.72 billion (2017 est.)
$80.35 billion (2016 est.)
$77.07 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)
$37.78 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate
2.22% (2019 est.)
4.23% (2018 est.)
4.19% (2017 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$7,600 (2017 est.)
$7,400 (2016 est.)
$7,200 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving
15.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
15.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
14.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 67.7% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 17% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 21.3% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 3.8% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 21.7% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -31.3% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 13.8% (2017 est.)
industry: 37.8% (2017 est.)
services: 48.2% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
38.6% (2015 est.)

note: based on percent of population living on less than the international standard of $2/day

Labor force
5.719 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 29.4%
industry: 22%
services: 48.6% (2015 est.)
Unemployment rate
4% (2017 est.)
4% (2016 est.)

note: data are for urban areas; widespread underemployment

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 6.9%
male: 6.8%
female: 7.1% (2018 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: 0.9%
highest 10%: 36.1% (2014 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index
47 (2016 est.)
57.9 (1999)
Budget
revenues: 15.09 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 18.02 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
39.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-7.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt
49% of GDP (2017 est.)
44.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: data cover general government debt and includes debt instruments issued by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities

Inflation rate (consumer prices)
2.8% (2017 est.)
3.6% (2016 est.)
Central bank discount rate
2.5% (31 December 2017 est.)
2.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate
8.11% (31 December 2017 est.)
7.95% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$9.616 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$9.09 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$9.616 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$9.09 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$25.61 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$22.39 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares
$12.8 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$12.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$11.11 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Agriculture - products
soybeans, quinoa, Brazil nuts, sugarcane, coffee, corn, rice, potatoes, chia, coca
Industries
mining, smelting, electricity, petroleum, food and beverages, handicrafts, clothing, jewelry
Industrial production growth rate
2.2% (2017 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$2.375 billion (2017 est.)
-$1.932 billion (2016 est.)
Exports
$7.746 billion (2017 est.)
$7.214 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
natural gas, silver, zinc, lead, tin, gold, quinoa, soybeans and soy products
Exports - partners
Brazil 17.9%, Argentina 16%, US 7.8%, Japan 7.3%, India 6.6%, South Korea 6.3%, Colombia 5.8%, China 5.1%, UAE 4.7% (2017)
Imports
$8.601 billion (2017 est.)
$7.888 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
machinery, petroleum products, vehicles, iron and steel, plastics
Imports - partners
China 21.7%, Brazil 16.8%, Argentina 12.6%, US 8.4%, Peru 6.5% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$10.26 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$10.08 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external
$12.81 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$7.268 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
$12.31 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$11.6 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad
$0 (31 December 2017 est.)
$0 (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
bolivianos (BOB) per US dollar -
6.86 (2017 est.)
6.86 (2016 est.)
6.91 (2015 est.)
6.91 (2014 est.)
6.91 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on Friday, November 27, 2020

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