Lima will host the third meeting of the countries part of the bi-oceanic train project encouraged by Bolivia, to advance in its concretion to unite the Atlantic-Pacific oceans. The Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade, Benjamin Blanco, reported the next appointment but did not give details about the date or month. The project of the Bioceanic Railway Integration Corridor (CFBI) is encouraged by Bolivia and it plans to link the ports of Santos, in the Atlantic (Brazil), and Ilo in the Pacific (Peru) through a railway line, with an eye on the Asian markets. Uruguay and Paraguay are part of the mega project and will be united from the Paraguay-Paraná waterway. Germany, Switzerland and Spain are interested in participating in the financing of the enterprise that, in Bolivia’s opinion, is viable. President Evo Morales encourages the project to make Bolivia a kind of commercial hub between both oceans.
This is the first action of this kind since Puerto Jennefer was opened on the border between Bolivia and Brazil, at a distance of 600 km from Santa Cruz de la Sierra. This port, located at the head of the Paraguay-Paraná waterway, is an alternative to the terminals of Arica & Iquique (in Chile) and Ilo (in Peru) for the mobilization of Bolivian cargo. In October of last year, President Evo Morales authorized the port complex – Jennefer, Gravetal and Central Aguirre – installed on the Paraguay-Paraná waterway, as international ports.
Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras confirmed that the Bolivian state oil company (YPFB) has already paid the fine for breaching the gas supply for nine months during the 2018 administration. The company declined to specify the figures, although it is unofficially known that the amount total reaches more than 133 million dollars. Three analysts consulted: Álvaro Ríos, Bernardo Prado and Hugo del Granado agreed that there are great losses for the State because Bolivia does not have the capacity to comply with the contracts.
The construction market came to a standstill and the trend could continue for the next three years. A census conducted by Captura Consulting, commissioned by the Urban Observatory (OBU) of the Construction Chamber of Santa Cruz (Cadecocruz), reveals a stagnation of the sector that in 2018 maintained the levels of 2017, and in fact decreased by 0, 3%. The same study argues that the real estate market is in clear slowdown, 66% of the people surveyed, indicated that they do not intend to buy a house in the next three years. The reason? the economic situation that the country is going through. The study reflects the uncertainty that exists in the country in a politically charged year due to the presidential elections in October. Economic activity is cooling because sales have fallen in several sectors. The study clarifies that the situation is temporary as long as it is not clear what will happen in the political context.
Bolivia’s deputy Foreign Minister Carmen Almendras reported that the goal for this year is the signing of at least 40 bilateral cooperation instruments to strengthen cooperation with countries in the region and the rest of the world. The objective is to deepen “complementary cooperation”, mainly aimed at the transfer of technology that contributes to the change of the productive matrix and industrialization.
The Bolivian external debt reaches US$ 10,187 million. The Ministry of Economy explained that the debt represents 23.3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), below the limits set by international organizations, such as the Andean Community (CAN). The largest creditor is IADB with 28.7%, followed by CAF with 23.8%, and investors in Sovereign Bonds with 19.6%. China is in fourth place with a share of 8, 9%, followed by the World Bank with 8.5%.
Moody’s kept Bolivia’s grade on Ba3. The rating agency highlighted the growth and International Reserves of Bolivia, which mitigate risks. William Foster, of the Investors Service of the Rating Agency, explained that one of the challenges for the country is to overcome its high dependence on hydrocarbon exports. Moody’s added that a weak institutional framework is another hurdle. External vulnerability risk is moderate, with International Reserves at about US$ 6.9 billion, representing 21% of GDP and external debt payments of only 20% to 30% of reserves.
According to the analyst Guillermo Torres Orías, the fine of Petrobras SA to YPFB due to the non-fulfilment in the delivery of gas volumes guaranteed in the GSA throughout 2018 is a consequence of a bad policy applied to the sector and worse long-term planning. The decision making in the hydrocarbons activity must have been of economic efficiency within the limits imposed by the technology and the energy security of the country. The State is responsible for ensuring the continuity of supply and long-term energy security, therefore, it must have built the systems to fulfil this responsibility. In the case of the original contract with Argentina, the addendums that reduce the amounts of gas guaranteed before paying fines for non-compliance confirm the fragility of the delivery schedule in relation to the country’s incremental production capacity. A delivery schedule such as the one negotiated would not have been acceptable, if a correct long-term planning was made in the production of the fields, considering the growing demands of natural gas in the domestic market and the amounts committed in the contract that was already in force with Brazil.
Organisations from France, Russia, China, Spain, South Korea, Japan and India expressed their interest in building a prospecting satellite for Bolivia. Within this context, the head of the Bolivian Space Agency (ABE) affirmed that India would be a “good” partner to develop technological entrepreneurship. He added that President Evo Morales has a “keen” interest for Bolivia to having a satellite to prospect natural resources.
Mining operators in Bolivia have to pay their 2019 and 2020 patent, or they risk to lose their concessions. The license is an annual legal requirement through which mining operators pay in advance to carry out their activities.