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Bolivia Economy

    Economy—overview: With its long history of semifeudal social controls, dependence on mineral exports, and bouts of hyperinflation, Bolivia has remained one of the poorest and least developed Latin American countries. However, Bolivia has experienced generally improving economic conditions since the PAZ Estenssoro administration (1985-89) introduced market-oriented policies which reduced inflation from 11,700% in 1985 to about 20% in 1988. PAZ Estenssoro was followed as president by Jaime PAZ Zamora (1989-93) who continued the free-market policies of his predecessor, despite opposition from his own party and from Bolivia's once powerful labor movement. President SANCHEZ DE LOZADA (1993-1997) vowed to advance the market-oriented economic reforms he helped launch as PAZ Estenssoro's planning minister. His successes included the signing of a free trade agreement with Mexico and the Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur) as well as the privatization of the state airline, telephone company, railroad, electric power company, and oil company. Hugo BANZER Suarez has tried to further improve the country's investment climate with an anticorruption campaign. With the scheduled completion of a $2 billion natural gas pipeline to Brazil in 1999, Bolivia hopes to become an energy hub in the region.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$23.4 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 4.7% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$3,000 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 17%
    industry: 26%
    services: 57% (1995 est.)

    Population below poverty line: 66%

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: 2.3%
    highest 10%: 31.7% (1990)

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.4% (1998 est.)

    Labor force: 2.5 million

    Labor force—by occupation: agriculture NA%, services and utilities NA%, manufacturing, mining and construction NA%

    Unemployment rate: 11.4% (1997) with widespread underemployment

    Budget:
    revenues: $2.7 billion
    expenditures: $2.7 billion (1998)

    Industries: mining, smelting, petroleum, food and beverages, tobacco, handicrafts, clothing

    Industrial production growth rate: 4% (1995 est.)

    Electricity—production: 2.95 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 40.68%
    hydro: 59.32%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 2.948 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 2 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: soybeans, coffee, coca, cotton, corn, sugarcane, rice, potatoes; timber

    Exports: $1.1 billion (f.o.b., 1998 est.)

    Exports—commodities: metals 34%, natural gas 9.4%, soybeans 8.4%, jewelry 11%, wood 6.9%

    Exports—partners: US 22%, UK 9.3%, Colombia 8.7%, Peru 7.4%, Argentina 7.2%

    Imports: $1.7 billion (c.i.f. 1998)

    Imports—commodities: capital goods 48%, chemicals 11%, petroleum 5%, food 5% (1993 est.)

    Imports—partners: US 20%, Japan 13%, Brazil 12, Chile 7.5% (1996)

    Debt—external: $4.1 billion (1998)

    Economic aid—recipient: $588 million (1997)

    Currency: 1 boliviano ($B) = 100 centavos

    Exchange rates: bolivianos ($B) per US$1—5.6491 (January 1999), 5.5101 (1998), 5.2543 (1997), 5.0746 (1996), 4.8003 (1995), 4.6205 (1994)

    Fiscal year: calendar year

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)