Bolivia – Country Profile

Bolivia – Country Profile

General Information

Official Name The Plurinational State of Bolivia
Capital La Paz
Total Area 1,098,581 sq km
Population 10.6 million (2014 estimate)
Currency 1 CAD = 6.36 Bolivianos (BOB) (26/05/2014)
National Holiday 6 August (1825)
Language(s) Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, and Guarani
Source: Economic Intelligence Unit, Bank of Canada (Currency Conversion 05/27/2014)

Political Information

Type of State Republic (Social Unitarian State)
Head of State President Juan Evo Morales Ayma
Elections Last: December 2009, Next: 2014
Source: Economic Intelligence Unit

Economic Information

Bolivia Canada
GDP (PPP) $70 billion $1,878 billion
GDP per capita $5,970 $53,518
GDP annual growth rate 6.5% 2.01%
GDP – composition by sector Agriculture: 9.2%

Industry: 38.5%

Services: 52.3%

Agriculture: 1.7%

Industry: 28.4%

Services: 69.9%

Inflation rate 5.9% 0.96%
Main industries Mining, smelting, petroleum, food and beverages, tobacco, handicrafts, clothing, and jewelry. Transportation equipment, chemicals, processed and unprocessed minerals, food products, wood and paper products, fish products, petroleum and natural gas.
Note: 2013 data in Canadian dollars ($CAD)
Source: IMF World Economic Outlook, World Bank Data, CIA World Factbook, Bank of Canada (Currency Conversion 05/27/201)

Political and Economic Stability

A landlocked country in the heart of South America, Bolivia has recently gained political stability after a long string of political coups stretching back to independence. The current President Evo Morales is the most powerful leader the country has seen since the 1950s. Elected in 2006, President Morales has steered the country towards economic growth at an average of 4.8% over the past 10 years, stemming primarily from the high prices of fuel and mineral exports.

Recent reforms to the economy, constitution and social programs have seen an impressive reduction in poverty from 63% in 2002 to 45% in 2011. While advances have been made, Bolivia continues face rates of poverty and income inequality that are among the highest in Latin America. The country is also vulnerable to fluctuations in international commodity prices and faces ongoing challenges of illicit drug production within its borders. Unstable political and market conditions have hindered Bolivia’s foreign trade and investment relationships.

In terms of security, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) recommends that Canadians exercise a high degree of caution when traveling in Bolivia due to continuing political and social tensions. For detailed and up-to-date information on travel security, please refer to the DFATD Travel Report for Bolivia.

Trade Information

Trade Partners & Direction 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Ave. Yearly Growth
Bolivia Exports to the World $5,297 M $6,872 M $9,005 M $11,786 M $13,632 M 27%
Bolivia Exports to United States $410 M $648 M $866 M $1,745 M $1,396 M 43%
Bolivia Exports to Canada $91 M $143 M $238 M $251 M $233 M 30%
Canadian Exports to Bolivia $12 M $49 M $16 M $34 M $26 M 77%
Note: data in Canadian dollars ($CAD)
Source: Industry Canada Trade Data Online, International Trade Centre Trade Map
Excluding mineral products (HS2 Codes 26-27 and 71-80)
Source: International Trade Centre Trade Map
Excluding mineral products (HS2 Codes 26-27 and 71-80)
Source: Industry Canada Trade Data Online

The World Bank’s annual Doing Business report ranks economies from 1 to 189 (with 1 being the best) on their ease of doing business. In the 2014 report, Bolivia ranked 162 overall and 126 for Trading Across Borders, which measure the ease with which a standardized shipment of goods can be imported or exported across its borders. The average time to ship goods out of Bolivia is slightly longer than the regional average at approximately 21 days, with an average estimated cost of $USD 1,440 per 20-foot container. To complete the export process, six forms of documentation are required: Bull of Lading, Collection order, Commercial invoice, Customs export declaration, Inspection Report, Packing list and Technical standard/health certificate.

Although there are many reputable exporters in Bolivia, Canadian importers should be aware that corruption could be an issue when doing business in the country. Bolivia ranked 106 out of 177 in Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Indexwhere 1st place indicates least corrupt.  Canadian companies are advised to exercise strict due diligence before working with a company from Bolivia to ensure that it is a bona fide and reputable entity. It is suggested that Canadian importers commission a report by a credit information provider to verify the financial strength of the partner.

Trade Opportunities

The majority of Bolivia’s trade is derived from neighbouring countries, with 40% of exports destined to Brazil alone. Canadian imports from Bolivia are still modest compared to other Latin American countries, but have experienced steady growth from 2009-2013 at an average of 30% per year. Bolivia also qualifies for Canada’s General Preferential Treatment (GPT).

Double Brace: Top Bolivian Product Opportunities: - Quinoa, Cereals, Nuts - Fruits & Vegetables - Spices & Herbs - Jewelry & Fashion - Home Textiles

Natural resources account for much of recent growth in Canadian imports as well as Bolivia’s economy as a whole. The sale of high price commodity items such as petroleum, crude oil, gold, silver, zinc, lead and tin constitute 80% of the country’s total exports to the world. Nonetheless, Bolivia offers a diversity of other products that are of interest to North American markets, particularly in agriculture, jewelry and textiles.

With a climate that ranges from the humid and tropic Amazon Basic to the rugged, semiarid cold of the Andes Mountains, it is no surprise that Bolivia boasts a wide range of agricultural products. Particularly promising varieties include: quinoa, soybeans, coffee, coca, corn, sugarcane, rice, potatoes, sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts. Bolivia is Canada’s number one source of both quinoa and cereals from Latin America, which include unmilled cereals, rolled/flaked grains, sweet biscuits and pasta. The country also offers unique exotic fruits including the camu camu fruit, known for its extremely high vitamin C content, and the achachairú, a traditional Bolivian fruit related to the mangosteen plant. Bolivia produces an abundance of herbs and spices, such as garlic, oregano, cinnamon, maca and sesame.

Bolivia’s talented artisans make use of an extensive selection of natural materials including leather, ceramic, natural fibres and over 40 varieties of wood to craft home décor items and household furniture. Renowned for its softness and warmth, Bolivia’s alpaca wool is increasingly in demand on international markets. Local craftsmen use alpaca wool and other natural materials to produce accessories, clothing, handicrafts and household textiles. The rich mineral deposits in Bolivia are ample grounds for the production of jewellery made of silver, gold and precious stones.

TFO Canada Export Offers

TFO Canada provides an information service for Canadian importers interested in sourcing products from developing and emerging economies such as Bolivia. This includes practical advice on sourcing from developing country exporters, a customized news bulletin including new leads from Bolivia as they come in, and a searchable database for sourcing new products and suppliers. The chart below provides an approximate idea of the number of Bolivian supplier profiles, available online with contact information through TFO’s searchable Supplier Database.

Industry Group No. of Suppliers in TFO Database
Fashion Accessories 14
Clothing (not including Footwear) 10
Food Products & Beverages (including Seafood) 8
Textiles 3
Home Décor, Giftware and Crafts 2
Industrial Goods, Machinery, Parts and Raw Materials 2
Animals and Animal Based Products 1
Chemicals, Minerals and Allied Products 1

Upcoming Trade Shows

19-28 September 2014
Feria Exposicion de Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Industries: Automobiles, leather goods, tourism, services, telecommunications, plastic, textiles, manufacturing, decoration, construction, jewelry, agriculture, technology, etc.

07-09 November 2014
Feria Exposicion de Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Industries: Recycling & Environment Products
Food, hides, leather, services, beverages, wood, housewears, financial services, agriculture, jewelry, bijouterie, cosmetics, confections, crafts, metalworking, etc.

International Jewelry Fair Santa Cruz
12-15 November 2014
Feria Exposicion de Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Industries: Jewelry & Gems
Crafts, beads, stone jewelleries, bangles, neck pieces, accessories, earrings, etc.

14-19 April 2015
Feria Exposicion de Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Industries: Agriculture
Livestock, meat, agricultural machinery, tools, handicrafts, agriculture related products, seeds, fertilizers, etc.

Contact Information

Embassy of Bolivia in Canada
130 Albert St. Suite 416, Ottawa, ON, K1P5G4
Phone: (613) 236-5730 / (613) 236-1312
Website: (Spanish only)

Promueve Bolivia
Export Promotion Agency of Bolivia
Phone: (591-2) 233-6886 / 233-8084
Website: (Spanish only)

Useful Links

Cámara Nacional del Exportadores de Bolivia (CANEB) (National Chamber of Exporters of Bolivia) (Spanish only)
Federación de Caficultores Exportadores de Bolivia (Federation of Coffee Growers Exporters of Bolivia) (Spanish only)
Government of Bolivia – Web Portal (Spanish only)
Instituto Boliviano de Comercio Exterior (Bolivan Institute of Foreign Trade) (Spanish only)

Links to Cited Documents

Bank of Canada – Daily Currency Convertor
Canadian Trade Commissioner Service – Country Info
CIA World Factbook
DFATD (Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade & Development) – Foreign Relations
DFATD (Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade & Development) – Travel Reports
EDC (Export Development Canada) – Country Profiles
Industry Canada – Trade Data Online
International Trade Centre – Trade Map
Transparency International – Corruption Perception Index
World Bank – Doing Business Report
World Bank – Open Data