October 16, 2013

Commercial Exchange Bolivia-EU

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The economic development of Bolivia has acquired increased importance, especially in light of next year's elections. How the Bolivian economy performs is one of the significant factors the Morales government will be evaluated on for the coming elections. Now, Bolivian international trade has been depicted as dynamic at the time of observing the overall results because the country has even been able to show a trade surplus in the last years. However, the questions remains, how does the trade activity of Bolivia looks like at a more detailed level? Given that Bolivia does not have good relations with the USA, which used to be its principal trade partner, and that the price of hydrocarbon products are not as favorable as they used to be, that put Brazil and Argentina in first and second place as partners, who comes into question?



The next obvious region that comes into question would be the European Union. This region has some significant trade with Bolivia. The following graphs, which are based on the statistics institute INE's data but created by the Bolivian Institute of Foreign Trade (IBCE), show the development with a bit more detail. A word of caution, the numbers for 2013 show trade up to the third quarter (until August) and are therefore preliminary.

For example, the graph below shows the trade balance between the EU and Bolivia since 2004.


The green bars show the exports, the blue bars the imports and the red bars show the balance. While between 2007 and 2011 Bolivia was able to accumulate a trade surplus with the EU, exports fell in 2012 and 2013 to plunge Bolivia into a trade deficit. According to IBCE the fall in 2012 represented a 14% fall from the previous year.

Next, the two graphs below show the import/export movement per country. These graphs also show the relative importance of each European country in relation to Bolivia.


To the question from where Bolivia buys more, the first graph (in blue) indicates that Germany is the principal source of products measured in value. In second and third places are Spain and Italy and not too far in fourth place is the Netherlands.

To the question about where to Bolivia sells its products, the graph in green provides the answer with Belgium being the country that buys the most from Bolivia, followed by Netherlands, the UK and Spain and Italy. Germany only takes a six distant place from the first.


The final question to clear up is what Bolivia sells to or buys from these countries. The EU, as the blue graph shows, sells Bolivia for the most part, as it was to be expected, capital goods such as tractors, replacement pieces for machinery, other machinery for construction and agriculture, parts for motors or engines, helicopters, machinery with special attributions as well as diesel and helicopters. Meanwhile, Bolivia sells minerals (Zinc and concentrates) as well as silver and gold, crude oil, Tin and Lead, and agricultural products such as soy paste and oils, para-nuts, quinua, leather and, of late, wood.

This brief overview shows that in spite of the good willingness, rhetoric and real efforts, from the part of the EU and Bolivia to increase the level of trade among both partners, the results have remained very modest.  

Additional Info:

Here is an article, in Spanish from El Deber, that talks about the efforts of the EU to engage in trade with Bolivia, with success for the EU might I add.
Unión Europea presente en feria internacional con 62 empresas
No cabe duda que, año tras año, la Feria Internacional de Santa Cruz (Expocruz) atrae a nuevos expositores, este es el caso de la Unión Europea que participa por tercera vez en esta muestra ferial y para esta oportunidad cuenta con dos nuevos miembros.
El diplomático Timothy Torlo informó que los representantes de la Unión Europea (EU) participan en la Expocruz 2013, a través de 12 países miembros y que para esta nueva versión ferial tiene dos nuevos países presentes.
“Participamos en Expocruz con un pabellón de $us 2 millones y donde participan Alemania, Austria, Bélgica, Dinamarca, España, Francia, Holanda, Inglaterra, Italia, Rumania, Rusia y Suiza, estos dos últimos países intervienen por primera vez”, indicó Torlo.
Asimismo, manifestó que la organización y administración del Pabellón de la UE en la Expocruz 2013 representa uno de los proyectos más importantes dentro del portafolio de servicios que ofrece la Cámara de Comercio e Industria Boliviano-Alemana.
“La organización del pabellón ha demandado más de medio año de arduo trabajo y de coordinación de 48 empresas de distintos rubros, quienes durante los diez días de duración de la feria internacional exhibirán una amplia gama de productos y servicios, como ser: maquinaria pesada, vehículos para los sectores agrícolas y construcción, servicios de matricería y mecanizados especiales; servicios, sistemas e insumos para la construcción, industria forestal y agricultura; automatización de procesos industriales, equipos para minería y topografía, dermocosméticos, relojes, bebidas energizante y gastronómicas, servicio de hotelería y turismo entre otros”, explico Torlo.
Acotó que este año los empresarios podrán tomar contacto con representantes de afamadas marcas, como también podrán apreciar la producción nacional de empresas con capitales europeos.
D A T O S
26 empresas expositoras exhiben más de 200 marcas alemanas, lo que representa el 54% del total de las empresas expositoras. Participan también 9 empresas españolas. Holanda e Italia estarán representadas por 5 entidades cada una, Inglaterra con 4 empresas, los países de Austria y Suiza con 3 expositores cada uno, Francia y Rusia con 2 empresas; Bélgica, Dinamarca y Rumania con 1 expositor, respectivamente.


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