Covid-19 and $19 mn state debt hinder oil company investments

The fall in the international price of oil put at risk the operational continuity of many oil companies in Bolivia, to which the State owes more than $19 million for commitments made in the last two years, within the framework of the Law for the Promotion of Investment in the Exploration and Exploitation of Hydrocarbons. According to data from YPFB, gas production in 2025 will fall by more than 26% compared to 2019. If Bolivia does not do anything in exploration, in the next four or five years, it will import 100% of liquid fuels, and in seven or eight years it will have no gas to export.

Bolivia showed a trade surplus of $27 mn in Q1 2020

Between January and April 2020, Bolivia experienced a trade surplus of $27 million despite a 14% drop in exports, but imports fell by a higher proportion, 30% over the same period of the last administration. The primary destination countries for Bolivian products were Brazil, Argentina and India, and the leading suppliers for the domestic market were: China, Brazil and Argentina. The most significant bilateral trade surplus was recorded with India, amounting to $171 million; while the primary bilateral trade deficit was with China, amounting to $403 million.

Gold: State lost $50 mn despite better prices and sales

In 2019, the Bolivian state lost more than $50 million in gold mining revenues, despite increased sales of the gold and rising prices. Bolivia recorded 42 tons extracted with a value of nearly $2 billion, (the highest export of all minerals). It is because gold miners only pay a 2.5% share that applies to marginal deposits and not the corresponding 7%.

The IMF did not condition the credit for Bolivia

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) provided financial assistance to Bolivia of $327 million in response to the health emergency caused by Covid-19. There were no conditions for the credit; however, the international organization suggests the easing of the exchange rate in the medium term, but it is the Bolivian authorities who make the decision.

The BCB will not change the exchange rate

Also, it remarks that the downward trend in international reserves observed since 2015 stopped. Early 2020, reserves stabilized due to the measures implemented. The public's confidence in national currency reflects in the progressive Bolivianization of both the portfolio and deposits. Reserves are at adequate levels under different international parameters and guarantee external and internal payments in foreign currency.