The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the World Bank (WB) estimate that Bolivia’s economic growth in 2020 will be 3%, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects to be 3.8%. The stability of the dollar exchange rate is guaranteed, as Net International Reserves (RIN) reached $6,468 million in 2019, representing 16% of the value of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The project for the construction of a Steel Plant in the Mutún will cost $500 million, financed 85% by the Export and Import Bank of China (Eximbank) and 15% of the General Treasury of the Nation (TGN). The Chinese company Sinosteel executes the project that consists of five stages: design, construction, assembly, commissioning and operation of the steel plant. Financers deposited more than $115 million, 22% of the total cost, but there is non-conformity with the advance. The deadline for completion of the works is 42 months. The project will generate at least 1,500 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs, while projected revenue from the sale of construction steel would amount to $70 million annually.
The Bolivian state exports liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to four neighbouring countries: Paraguay is the largest buyer with 57% of sales, Peru buys 37%, Brazil buys 4%, and Argentina 2%. The total value of LPG exports to the four countries in 2019 reached $us 44.4 million by a volume of 120,206 metric tons (TM). The Gran Chaco Plant was built with around $us 700 million investment and opened in 2015.
The Central Bank of Bolivia (BCB) said that as 31 December 2019, the international reserves reached $6.5 billion (16% of the GDP), which is enough to keep the dollar exchange fixed at Bs.6.96. The BCB also said as 6 of January, the level of deposits reached Bs.180.5 billion ($26.1 billion).
Tarija received at least 77,000 tourists, between nationals and foreigners, in December 2019, generating an economic movement of $us 12 million, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism of the Municipal Government.
In 2019 the country spent $700 million for the import of diesel and $300 million to import gasoline. This situation equates to 50% of the $2 billion YPFB received for natural gas exports. Bolivia imports 60% of the fuels required by the domestic market, as YPFB production does not meet demand. By 2020 the state-owned company’s budget is $387.9 million, of which 40% would go to exploration and another 40% for distribution. In 2019 YPFB executed only 38% of its budget.
As September 2019, State-owned YPFB reported a loss of $443.7 million. The president of YPFB, Herland Soliz said that YPFB is still a solid company with an equity of $9.1 billion.
Bolivia will not be able to support a fixed exchange rate in the context of commodity dependence. Fitch downgraded Bolivia in November to B+, citing the central bank’s declining reserves and political turmoil. It added that Bolivia has sustained its currency by burning international reserves at an unsustainable pace. Since 2014 they have fallen to less than $8 billion, Bolivian dollar bonds due in 2028 have reduced their yield to 4.94%.
The National Chamber of Commerce (CNC) is organising the “International Supply Chain Fair”, with the aim of strengthened Bolivia’s international trade. The event will take place the 6th and 7th of February and will bring together 177 companies between providers and requesters from the US, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina and others. The fair will create a platform to promote Bolivia’s products and services, explained Mauricio Ortega, Marketing Manager of the CNC.
Bolivia’s YPFB had to buy 150 million litres of anhydrous alcohol (ethanol) from sugar mills in 2019, but only acquired 47 million or 31%. Although the non-compliance created economic problems, sugar mills are still betting on the project, hoping that the State-owned company will buy the full volume committed for 2020, which will increase by a range of 7 and 33%.