Bolivia's International Trade and Consumption Habits

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Bolivia's International Trade and Consumption Habits

The Bolivian economy has had a historic pattern of a single-commodity export orientation. The complicated political Bolivian landscape influenced by a violent colonial legacy and difficult topography have slowed efforts to modernize the industrial sector. Similarly, relatively low population growth has kept the labor supply low and prevented industries from flourishing. The last years the fundamentals of its economy showed an impressing improvement leading the major credit rating agencies to an upgrade of Bolivian economy in 2010. The mining industry, especially the extraction of natural gas and zinc, currently dominates Bolivia’s export economy.

Bolivia reported a trade surplus equivalent to 173 Million USD in March of 2012. Historically, from 1994 until 2012, Bolivia Balance of Trade averaged 20.96 Million USD reaching an all time high of 214.20 Million USD in July of 2006 and a record low of -115.60 Million USD in June of 1998. Bolivia exports mainly natural gas, minerals (zinc, silver, tin), and soybeans.

Exports increased by more than 30% between 2010 and 2011 to $9.1 billion, due mostly to increased commodity prices, not increased volume. In 2011, Bolivia’s top export products were: hydrocarbons (45% of total exports), minerals (27%), manufactured goods (24%), and agricultural products (4%). Bolivia’s trade with neighboring countries is growing, in part because of several regional preferential trade agreements. Bolivia’s top trading partners in 2011 in terms of exports were Brazil (33%), Argentina (11%), United States (10%), Japan (6%), Peru (5%), South Korea (5%), Belgium (4%), China (3%), and Venezuela (3%).

From 2010 to 2011, Bolivian imports rose by 41% to a total of $7.6 billion. Bolivia imports many industrial supplies and inputs such as replacement parts, chemicals, software, and other production items (31% of total imports), capital goods (21%), fuel (13%), and consumer goods (10%). Top...
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