Oil prices increased to its highest level in six months after the US Government announced the end of the exemptions that allowed eight countries to buy oil from Iran. In New York, the light sweet crude (WTI) barrel reached $65.7 while in London the Brent barrel reached $74.04. The price of the WTI barrel is a reference for Bolivia where the government drafted the General Budget (PGE) for 2019 with revenues based on a price of $50.25 per barrel.
Bolivia and Argentina aimed to strengthen their ties in the gas and electricity sectors. In an official visit to Argentina, president Evo Morales and his counterpart Mauricio Macri signed various agreements to increase investments on the hydrocarbons and electricity sectors as well as increase the use of Paraguay-Parana waterway to allow Bolivian exports through the Argentinian port of Rosario. Both countries also agreed to strengthen their scientific cooperation to develop biofuels.
Bolivia’s external debt is within reasonable margins, said the Interamerican Development Bank (IADB), one of the country’s main creditors. The IDB finances public investment projects, mainly in the areas of infrastructure and job creation. More than 70% of the financing portfolio goes to infrastructure projects: roads, electric sector, hospitals, water supply and sanitation.
The industrial sector aims to increase its share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 16% to 20%. The president of the Industries National Chamber (CNI), Ibo Blazicevic presented to the government a 10-year plan to achieve the objective. The Planning Minister, Mariana Prado, welcomed the proposal and said that this means that the government will withdraw from some sectors such as hydrocarbons and mining to boost the private industrial sector.
YPFB, the State oil company, announced that it concluded the works to modify its storage capacity to expand its ethanol plants and enhance their transportation system. YPFB’s president Oscar Barriga, said that the job demanded an investment of over $41 million and will allow the company to receive 150 million litres of anhydrous alcohol from sugar producers and convert them in super ethanol 92 combustible.
Bolivia and Argentina will discuss the lithium prices to be exploited in both countries. President Evo Morales and his Argentinian counterpart, Mauricio Macri, will meet to discuss this topic and signed other bilateral projects. Bolivia, Argentina and Chile posses around 80% of the global lithium reserves. Bolivia plans to invest more than $900 million in the exploitation and industrialisation of the mineral.
The 8th Andean Business Meeting will be held in La Paz between 8 and 9 May. The Foreign Trade Vice-Minister, Benjamin Blanco, said that during the meeting the delegates will discuss ways to promote production and employment as well as the strengthening of trade among the countries of the Andean Community. Businessmen from the European Union will also attend the meeting.
Gold exports increased by 9.5% in the period 2017-2018 thanks to the recovery of international prices. In 2018 gold exportations reached 40,690 kilos while in 2017 they reached 37,162 kilos. The Bolivian Foreign Trade Institute (IBCE) noted that the upward trend continued during the first two months of this year.
Ivo Blazicevic, president of the Industrial National Chamber (CNI), asserted that the primary export model of gold -based on cooperative activities- is not sustainable. He added that the current model conceals informality with a high environmental cost and scarce revenue for the State. In the medium and long term, it is not suitable for Bolivia. More than 99% of the gold exploitation is in the hands of the cooperative members who leave 2.5% of royalties to the regions.
Between December 2018 and April 2019, Bolivia’s net international reserves (NIR) had a reduction of SU$1.02 billion, according to data from the BCB. If the trend continues without changes the NIR will fall to SU$5 billion.