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Bolivia: Economy#

Bolivia is a resource rich country with strong growth attributed to captive markets for natural gas exports – to Brazil and Argentina. Gas accounts for roughly 50% of Bolivia's total exports and will fund more than half of its 2015 budget. However, the country remains one of the least developed countries in Latin America because of state-oriented policies that deter investment and growth.

Following a disastrous economic crisis during the early 1980s, reforms spurred private investment, stimulated economic growth, and cut poverty rates in the 1990s. 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, the government passed a controversial hydrocarbons law 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 global recession slowed growth, but Bolivia recorded the highest growth rate in South America during 2009 and has averaged 5.3% growth each year since 2009. High commodity prices between 2010 and 2013 sustained rapid growth and large trade surpluses. The global decline in oil prices in late 2014 exerted downward pressure on the price Bolivia receives for exported gas and resulted in lower GDP growth rates and losses in government revenue in 2015.

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.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$78.35 billion (2016 est.)
$75.56 billion (2015 est.)
$72.06 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$35.7 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate3.7% (2016 est.)
4.8% (2015 est.)
5.5% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$7,200 (2016 est.)
$7,000 (2015 est.)
$6,800 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving12.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
13.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
20.5% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 69.3%
government consumption: 18.2%
investment in fixed capital: 20.4%
investment in inventories: -1.4%
exports of goods and services: 29%
imports of goods and services: -35.5% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 13.3%
industry: 37.4%
services: 53.6% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productssoybeans, quinoa, Brazil nuts, sugarcane, coffee, corn, rice, potatoes, chia, coca
Industriesmining, smelting, petroleum, food and beverages, tobacco, handicrafts, clothing, jewelry
Industrial production growth rate3.5% (2016 est.)
Labor force4.993 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 32%
industry: 20%
services: 47.9% (2009 est.)
Unemployment rate7.5% (2016 est.)
7.4% (2015 est.)
note: data are for urban areas; widespread underemployment
Population below poverty line45%
note: based on percent of population living on less than the international standard of $2/day (2011 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 0.8%
highest 10%: 33.6% (2012 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index46.6 (2012)
57.9 (1999)
Budgetrevenues: $15.44 billion
expenditures: $17.66 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues43.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-6.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt47% of GDP (2016 est.)
38.5% of GDP (2015 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
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices)3.9% (2016 est.)
4.1% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate4.5% (31 December 2013)
4% (31 december 2012)
Commercial bank prime lending rate7.6% (31 December 2016 est.)
8.07% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$9.572 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$8.946 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$17.77 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$15.45 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$22.68 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$18.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$9.684 billion (31 December 2013)
$7.689 billion (31 December 2012)
$6.089 billion (31 December 2011)
Current account balance-$2.34 billion (2016 est.)
-$1.923 billion (2015 est.)
Exports$7.528 billion (2016 est.)
$8.197 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesnatural gas, mineral ores, gold, soybeans and soy products, tin
Exports - partnersBrazil 28.1%, Argentina 16.9%, US 12.1%, Colombia 6.3%, China 5.3%, Japan 4.7%, South Korea 4.3% (2015)
Imports$8.981 billion (2016 est.)
$9.069 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery, petroleum products, vehicles, iron and steel, plastics
Imports - partnersChina 17.9%, Brazil 16.5%, Argentina 11.8%, US 10.6%, Peru 6.2%, Japan 5.2%, Chile 4.6% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$11 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$13.06 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$11.83 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$9.035 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$10.56 billion (31 December 2013)
$8.809 billion (31 December 2012)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$0 (31 December 2013 est.)
$0 (31 December 2012 est.)
Exchange ratesbolivianos (BOB) per US dollar -
6.91 (2016 est.)
6.91 (2015 est.)
6.91 (2014 est.)
6.91 (2013 est.)
6.94 (2012 est.)