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U.S. Department of State
Bolivia Country Commercial Guide
Office of the Coordinator for Business Affairs
COUNTRY COMMERCIAL GUIDE
CHAPTER I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY -
Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. Nonetheless, it is
firmly committed to a free market economic system, and has had positive
economic growth eight years running. The market-oriented reforms
initiated in 1985 have been institutionalized and advanced. With a low
level of industrialization, Bolivia is reliant upon imports, especially
capital and consumer goods, to meet its citizens' needs. The U.S. is
Bolivia's largest single trading partner; in 1994 Bolivia had a slight
trade surplus with the U.S.: imports from Bolivia were $260 million
while exports to Bolivia reached $186 million, according to U.S. Dept.
of Commerce statistics.
The economic growth rate for 1994 was 4.1 percent. Bolivia's 1994
inflation rate was 8.3 percent, one of the lowest in the region.
Best prospects for investment for U.S. companies are in the mining,
petroleum, and agriculture sectors. In addition, the Government of
Bolivia (GOB)is in the process of selling off 50 percent of its six
largest public corporations (electric power, telecommunications,
hydrocarbons, airline, railroad, and smelter). As all of the six
companies to be partially sold (in a process called "capitalization" by
the Bolivians) are moderately to seriously undercapitalized, a large
amount of investment should be the result of the capitalization process.
Capitalization, which is the centerpiece of to President Sanchez de
Lozada's economic reform plan, differs from traditional privatization in
that money paid by the new partner(s) goes not to the national treasury
but into the company as direct investment. These new investments should
offer significant possibilities for U.S. companies to sell products and
After some delays, the capitalization process entered its final phase in
June when the three generating units of the electric power company,
ENDE, were sold to three U.S. companies. Their combined bids were USD
140 million, USD 40 million over book value.
Bolivia has an investment law which guarantees national treatment and
free convertibility of currency. However, potential investors should be
aware that the criminal and civil justice system is rife with
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CHAPTER II. ECONOMIC TRENDS AND OUTLOOK
Major Trends and Outlook:
Bolivia has had eight years of moderate economic growth through 1994,
and this trend should continue, with 1995 growth around 4 percent
through the first trimester. Inflation was 8.3 percent in 1994;
inflation has risen to an annualized rate of just above 10 percent
through the first five months of 1995 but should finish in single digits
for the year. Reserves are roughly equivalent to five months of
imports, about where they were in 1994. Banking deposits are around
$2.3 billion as of 6/30/95, a shade under 1994 levels but not too
unhealthy considering two banks failed in late 1994. Two of Bolivia's
largest commercial banks acquired foreign partners/ownership in June
1995; this is in general a positive trend, adding new capital to a
relatively fragile system.
The imminent capitalization (a form of privatization in which the
government sells off only 50 percent of companies, instead of an
outright sale) of the Bolivian Government's six largest companies should
give a boost to economic growth. Three and perhaps four of the six
companies will most likely be sold by the end of 1995, with the largest,
the oil company YPFB, to be sold by early/mid-1996 (the GOB says by the
end of 1995 but we don't see how that can happen; they have missed
nearly all deadlines for the last two years). The GOB hopes to attract
between $1-2 billion in new direct investment into the key sectors of
transportation (airline, railroad), energy (electric power,
hydrocarbons), mining (smelter with mining concessions bundled in) and
communications (phone company).
If successful, capitalization should bring internationally-skilled
management and modern technology to the companies being sold. As all
suffer from a lack of capital, well-placed investment could pay
attractive dividends in the mid- to long-term. As the new managers move
in, however, the workforce may shrink initially, as most payrolls of the
public corporations are bloated. The GOB also hopes corruption will be
lessened as a by-product of capitalization, as large numbers of jobs and
amounts of money move out of public control.
The government plans to use the money which in the past went to the
companies to be capitalized towards increased social investment in
education, public health, and roads. These sectors should therefore be
more attractive in the coming years to U.S. providers of goods and
The administration of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada is committed
to keeping inflation low. In 1993 and 1994 the rate of inflation was
below 10 percent, and, while the rate has slipped above 10 percent for
the last 12 months as of May 1995, in all likelihood the 1995 rate will
also be in single digits, although not falling to the government's goal
of 6.5 percent. The GOB is attempting to improve tax collection methods
and has modified its tax structure to increase revenues. It is also
trying to clamp down on tax cheats and, to a lesser extent, on parts of
the extensive informal economy.
The outlook for Bolivia's economy remains positive for the next two
years, until the end of the present administration. While the elections
of 1997 should bring some uncertainty as to who economic policy makers
would be in a new administration, nearly all of Bolivia's political
parties are now dedicated to free market principles, and there should be
no large-scale changes. At the same time, Bolivia's endemic poverty and
public indebtedness--the GOB has around $4.2 billion worth of bilateral
and multilateral debt--will not go away or be reduced in any measurable
way. Bolivia will remain heavily dependent upon the kindness of
strangers--World Bank, IMF, InterAmerican Development Bank, friendly
donor nations--to balance its books.
Principal Growth Sectors:
The two major sectors of the Bolivian economy, mining and agriculture,
should see significant growth in 1995, for different reasons. The
mining sector is seriously undercapitalized. Even so, mining should see
an upturn not because of much new investment (although it has attracted
several multinational companies who are actively prospecting), but
rather because international prices have been steadily rising through
the first half of 1995, with the trend expected to continue through the
end of the year. As the mining sector accounts for roughly half of the
country's export earnings, price increases will help boost the country's
trade balance. On the other hand, the agricultural sector is growing
dynamically, as increased hectarage in the soil-rich Santa Cruz
department is being moved into soybean production. Bolivia exports soy
products to its Andean Pact neighbors and has been expanding its
production for the last several years. This trend should continue;
Brazilian producers have been buying more land to bring it into
production; Bolivian investors are also increasing their land holdings.
The hydrocarbons sector is also important. U.S. and foreign oil
companies continue to look for oil and gas throughout the country. A
proposed gas pipeline to Brazil, while still in the planning stages, is
increasingly looking like a reality, as U.S. and international companies
have entered into partnership with both YPFB and Petrobras, the
Brazilian state-owned oil company, to help bring the project to
fruition. Construction of the pipeline should begin in 1996 or 1997.
Once online, the pipeline will bring substantial export earnings to
Bolivia. The construction of the pipeline on the Bolivian side will
cost an estimated $500 million, and will have a significant impact on
the regional economy of Santa Cruz department.
Government Role in the Economy:
Total governmental spending accounts for around 40 percent of GDP (1994
GDP of around $7 billion). As mentioned above, the GOB hopes to
significantly reduce its presence as an economic player by selling off
its six largest companies under the process of capitalization. It also
plans to privatize some 70-75 smaller companies, the most significant of
which are regional dairies, hotels, and spinning mills. The GOB sees
its new role as primarily one of exercising a role as a supervisor and
overseer of economic activity, leaving actual production concerns to the
private sector. It wants to increase its public investment in
education, health and infrastructure.
In 1994 the GOB began the process of popular participation, whereby for
the first time it gives money from the central government directly to
the city governments of some 300-plus communities throughout Bolivia.
This means that some areas which have never received money from the
central government now have control over money to go towards maintaining
and building infrastructure--roads, schools, health units, etc.--where
they live. While not having much of an economic impact in macro terms,
the significance in social terms of giving control to regions cannot be
Public investment will not significantly increase in 1995, primarily due
to the capitalization process. Estimated planned public investment will
be around $550 million; actual amounts will be less as not all money
will make it out of the pipeline by the end of the year. The Central
Bank of Bolivia estimates that actual public investment in 1994 was $499
million dollars, while estimates of private investment were around $128
million (The government dropped the requirement for investment permits
in 1985 so there are no reliable figures on private investment).
Balance of Payments Situation:
In 1994 Bolivia's trade deficit, which had grown sharply the previous
three years, shrunk significantly, to $224 million from a 1993 deficit
of $496 million. Of the 1994 merchandise exports of $985 million,
minerals accounted for $413 million, natural gas (to Argentina) $92
million, and non-traditional exports $521 million. Imports were $1.209
billion in 1994, up slightly from 1993 figures. Consumer goods
accounted for $281 million, intermediate goods $488 million, and capital
goods $424 million. Capital goods imports accounted for only 35 percent
of total imports in 1994; they had been 43 percent of total imports in
1993. Unregistered imports in the form of contraband probably accounted
for several hundreds of millions of dollars, as did unregistered exports
in the form of consumer goods, gold, and cocaine.
Bolivia's current account deficit in 1994 reached $133 million, offset
by a positive capital account of $389 million and "extraordinary
financing" of $133 million (i.e., rescheduled debt payments). Net
international reserves increased to $502 million at the end of 1994, up
from $371 million at the end of 1993. Errors and omissions in the
balance of payments published by the Central Bank were a negative $306
The positive balance in the capital account came from $128 million in
direct investment and $360 million in external loan disbursements. The
World Bank ($79 million), IDB ($136 million) and CAF ($72 million)
accounted for the majority of disbursements. The government paid $139
million on principal and $137 million in 1994 to service its debt. Thus
its net inflow was only $84 million. Bolivia also received $267 million
in the form of assistance on a grant basis, as "unilateral transfers"
calculated by the Central Bank.
Bolivia renegotiated some of its debt payments through the Paris Club of
bilateral lenders in 1994. Total official debt of the GOB at the end of
1994, according to the Central Bank, was $4.18 billion, with $1.8
billion owed to other governments and the rest to multilateral
Bolivia approaches the 21st century without a paved road to any
neighboring countries, but by early 1996 a road to its main port of
Arica in northern Chile should be paved, greatly improving its
export/import capacity while reducing transport costs and time. There
are other road projects in development or under construction to go to
the Peruvian border south of Lake Titicaca and from La Paz to the Amazon
Basin. Facilities dedicated to public education and public health are
The national phone company, ENTEL, which should be jointly owned by an
international communications company by September/October 1995, has
fairly modern digital switching equipment for calls between cities and
for connections to satellites. Local calls within cities are handled by
independent cooperatives which will have a monopoly on this service for
six years, until 2001 (the new co-owner of ENTEL will also have a six
year monopoly on long-distance service). The cooperatives have not kept
up with modern technology; their installations costs are high and
service is poor. Cellular phones are becoming increasingly popular with
businesspeople and government officials. One private company offers
cellular phone service in Bolivia's largest cities and continues to
expand service areas. With the capitalization of ENTEL in the fall of
1995, the new owner/manager of ENTEL will most likely use ENTEL's B band
to offer cellular service.
ENFE, the national railroad, is also to be capitalized in late 1995. It
has suffered from years of underinvestment. Its hauling capacity is
also limited by Bolivia's mountains and by its narrow gauge track (built
by the British at the turn of the century). The rail system consists of
two independent lines separated by the eastern range of the Andes. The
western line connects the cities of La Paz, Cochabamba and Oruro with
northern Argentina and the Chilean ports of Arica and Antofagasta. The
eastern line connects the city of Santa Cruz with western Brazil and
northern Argentina. Rolling stock is transferred from one system to the
other at a connection in northern Argentina.
There are two air carriers, American Airlines and the government-owned
Lloyd Air Boliviano (LAB), which offer daily service to Miami. LAB is
one of the companies to be capitalized in the fall of 1995. A U.S.
cargo company flies to and from Bolivia twice weekly. Regional airlines
as well as LAB offer flights to neighboring countries, most on a daily
basis. A private airline, Aerosur, competes with LAB on national
--CHAPTER III. THE BOLIVIAN POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT-
Nature of political relationship with the U.S.:
The United States remains Bolivia's largest provider of foreign
assistance, its major trading partner, and its largest foreign investor.
The U.S. has considerable influence at nearly all levels of Bolivian
politics, society, and culture, despite Bolivia's past reputation as a
hotbed of anti-American leftism.
U.S.-Bolivian relations have been good for several years. Both
countries demonstrate a strong commitment to fostering and strengthening
democracy, combatting terrorism, fomenting sustainable economic growth
and development with a strong emphasis on addressing social problems,
and fighting the threat posed by drug trafficking. President Sanchez de
Lozada, Vice President Cardenas, Foreign Minister Aranibar and other
cabinet officials have visited the U.S. on several occasions; Vice
President Gore reciprocated with a brief visit to Bolivia in March 1994.
More recently U.S.-Bolivian relations weathered a particularly difficult
stretch following the March 1, 1995 threat to decertify Bolivia as a
fully cooperating country in the area of counternarcotics policy. A re-
invigorated coca eradication campaign produced noteworthy results and
the GOB avoided full decertification. Equally important, a new
bilateral extradition treaty was signed in June, 1995. Nevertheless,
counternarcotics issues remain a controversial feature of bilateral
relations as the GOB'S ability to sustain the counternarcotics effort is
Under the direction of President Sanchez de Lozada and Foreign Minister
Antonio Aranibar, Bolivia pursues a forward-looking foreign policy,
seeking to expand markets in East Asia and Europe and to promote western
hemisphere free trade. Indeed, Sanchez de Lozada was instrumental in
developing the goal of hemispheric free trade by the year 2005 during
the Miami Summit of the Americas.
Some Pending Issues in U.S.-Bolivian Relations:
Bolivia must sustain the current coca eradication effort throughout 1995
or once again risk decertification for not fully complying with
counternarcotics treaty obligations.
While Goni hopes to get away from foreign aid, Bolivia needs aid for
years to come, at a time of plummeting assistance levels in the U.S. and
elsewhere, in order to address balance-of-payments and social problems.
Goni hopes for more multilateral assistance, especially from
international financial institutions for initiatives such as alternative
development projects. He also has asked for (and received) U.S.
guidance and assistance on charting a workable sustainable development
Bolivia needs to become more attractive to foreign investors; e.g., by
reforming the judicial system, approving a bilateral investment treaty,
eliminating bureaucratic impediments, downsizing and modernizing
Bolivia's parastatal corporations (which Goni hopes will be partially
bought off by investors: his "capitalization" plan), and tackling the
recalcitrant labor unions.
Bolivia has begun its own "good governance" initiative, crucial to
attracting investment and improving Bolivia's image, but the road ahead
will not be smooth. The Goni administration first reformed the
Executive Branch, then tackled Supreme Court corruption in the form of
an unprecedented impeachment case against two justices. The
administration is now working on a corruption case linking high-level
members of the MIR party and the previous administration to drug
Bolivia remains the world's second-largest producer of cocaine, much of
it for the illicit U.S. drug market, and the world's second largest
grower of coca, most for the illicit drug trade. U.S.-Bolivian law
enforcement cooperation must, therefore, continue, including ending
illegal coca cultivation and improving legal/judicial cooperation in
areas such as extradition. The signing of a new extradition treaty in
June '95 marks an important step forward in this regard.
From the U.S. Government perspective, the overarching, interrelated
policy goals in Bolivia shared by the current and former governments of
Bolivia, are the "three D's": nurturing the democratic process,
encouraging economic development and stability and eliminating the
illegal drug (coca/cocaine) industry and drug trafficking.
Major Political Issues affecting business climate:
The election of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada as president in 1993 not only
marked the fourth successive peaceful transfer of power but clearly
demonstrated the growing maturation of Bolivian democracy. By all
accounts the 1993 elections were generally open and honest. Once known
for political instability and a dizzying string of military coups,
Bolivia is among South America's leaders in building democratic
political institutions and in the opening of its economy. This
political stability has no doubt helped the economy recover over the
last 10 years, and is one reason foreign investors have come. Still,
the government must continue to fight corruption at all levels of
government, the judicial system needs to be updated and streamlined, and
the legislature must pass laws that create clear rules of the game for
Synopsis of political system, schedule for elections, and orientation of
major political parties:
Bolivia's plurinominal electoral system encourages multiple parties, and
greatly limits the ability of any one party to gain a clear majority.
Consequently, coalition governments, with little room to maneuver, are
the rule. Parties retain total control in nominating candidates for
congressional office. However, recent changes to the constitution will
allow the direct election of deputies in fifty percent of the
congressional districts in 1997. This change reflects President Sanchez
de Lozada's desire to make government more responsive to the average
Sanchez de Lozada's MNR party won an impressive 34% of the vote in a
crowded field of 14 candidates in the presidential elections. The MNR
also won a majority in the Senate and a plurality in the Chamber of
Deputies. With support from the centrist UCS, leftist MBL, indigenous
MRTKL party (of Vice President Victor Hugo Cardenas) and two minor
parties, Sanchez de Lozada and his centrist MNR party have cobbled
together a tempestuous but workable coalition. Temperamental UCS leader
Max Fernandez withdrew his support from October '94 until June '95.
President Sanchez de Lozada interpreted his 1993 election victory as a
loud call for change and embarked on an ambitious legislative program
promoting capitalization (privatization), and electoral and education
reform. Unfortunately, the government's implementation of these
legislative successes has been slow, resulting in growing
disenchantment. Voter frustration over the government's
ineffectiveness, as well as over continued high levels of poverty, will
likely be an important factor in the '97 general election.
Challenges and changes
The major challenge confronting President Sanchez de Lozada as he
approaches his administration's half-way mark will be to fully implement
the legislative change passed in 1994 - capitalization, educational
reform and popular participation. Each of these three areas remains
highly controversial, and tackling any one of them would be difficult.
To fully succeed, Sanchez de Lozada will have to overcome his natural
reluctance to use his congressional majority and forcefully push through
his program. To his credit, his majority did use its pull in early July
1995 to pass the Telecommunications Law, an important step in the
This will be complicated by the fact that the government coalition,
which commands only a slight majority in the lower house, is shaky.
After eight months in the opposition, brewery owner and UCS leader Max
Fernandez led his 21 UCS deputies back into the government in June, but
he remains an unreliable partner. Meanwhile, the leftist MBL, never a
entirely comfortable fit, is increasingly restive and will try to water
down if not thwart key aspects of the GOB'S counternarcotic and
political reform policies.
Outline of political system
Three branches of government:
EXECUTIVE: Eleven-member cabinet, most recently shuffled in March 1994.
President elected to five-year term (starting in 1997), but cannot serve
consecutive terms. If no candidate wins an absolute majority of the
popular vote, a president is elected from the top two finishers by
Bolivian Cabinet (as of June 1995)
PRESIDENT Gonzalo SANCHEZ DE LOZADA
VICE PRESIDENT Victor Hugo CARDENAS (MRTKL)
FOREIGN MINISTER Antonio ARANIBAR (MBL)
MINISTER OF GOVERNMENT Carlos SANCHEZ Berzain
DEFENSE MINISTER Raul TOVAR (UCS)
MINISTER OF THE PRESIDENCY Jose Guillermo JUSTINIANO
MINISTER OF FINANCE Fernando COSSIO
MINISTER OF ECONOMIC Jaime VILLALOBOS
DEVELOPMENT (w/o Portfolio)
MINISTER OF SOCIAL Enrique IPINA
MINISTER OF SUSTAINABLE Luis LEMA Molina
MINISTER W/O PORTFOLIO Alfonso REVOLLO
LABOR MINISTER Reynaldo PETERS
JUSTICE MINISTER Rene BLATTMAN (IND)
MINISTER OF SOCIAL Ernesto MACHICAO
Unless indicated, ministers are members of the MNR party.
LEGISLATIVE: Two-chamber congress; 27-member Senate (chosen by party
slate; three per department (or state). 130-member Chamber of Deputies,
apportioned roughly by population. Senators and Deputies serve five-
year terms (starting in 1997), elected from party slates, and may be re-
The following major parties are currently represented in congress:
-- MBL Free Bolivia Movement (leftist)
-- MNR Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (centrist)
-- MP Patriotic Movement (split from CONDEPA)
-- MRTKL Tupac Katari Revolutionary Liberation Movement (indigenous)
-- MUP Unity and Progress Movement (split from CONDEPA)
-- UCS Civic Solidarity Union (populist)
-- ADN National Democratic Action (center-right)
-- CONDEPA Conscience of the Nation (populist)
-- MIR Movement of the Revolutionary Left (center-left)
The governing MNR-MTKRL-UCS-MBL-MP-MUP coalition has:
-- 18 of 27 Senate seats
-- 85 of 130 House seats
Next Elections: Municipal, December 1995; National, June 1997.
Suffrage: Universal and compulsory at age 18; more than 1.7 million
ballots were cast in the 1993 presidential elections. Around 2.3
million voters expected to vote in 1997
JUDICIARY: Consists of Supreme Court and departmental and lower courts;
the 12 Supreme Court justices are nominated by the President, elected by
the Congress (with two-thirds approval) and serve one ten-year term.
The Attorney General, independent from the Executive Branch, is also
appointed by the President, confirmed by the Congress and serves a ten-
--CHAPTER IV. MARKETING U.S. PRODUCTS AND SERVICES -
Distribution and Sales Channels:
Import Channels: There are four principal types of commercial import
channels: commission or independent sales agents or representatives,
import houses, subsidiaries of foreign firms, and direct importation by
It is important not only to select the type of distribution system most
suitable for the exporting firm and its product, but also to appoint an
experienced, aggressive, financially solvent representative. Capital
goods exporters should ensure that potential representatives have access
to key decision-makers.
Most heavy equipment, machinery, and general merchandise must be
delivered through seaports in Peru, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina.
Occasionally, bad weather, landslides, port congestion, or other factors
may block all import channels. It is important to cooperate closely
with Bolivian importers in arranging transportation and preparing and
submitting shipping documents. Air cargo transportation may at times be
desirable even for heavy items.
USE OF AGENTS/DISTRIBUTORS, FINDING A PARTNER
Most of the numerous agents, distributors and representatives in Bolivia
are very effective in dealing with government agencies, as well as with
private industry. Commission agents take orders on a direct shipment
basis. Some specialize in certain products or in supplying customers
engaged in specific activities. These agents and representatives do not
stock products. Agents are required to have a minimum paid-in capital
of $2,000 to initiate a business activity in Bolivia.
Agents must also meet certain other requirements and register with the
National Chamber of Commerce, the Internal Revenue Service, the
Secretariat of Industry and Commerce, the National Directory of
Commerce, and the local municipality. Agents and representatives
require a letter or agreement from the foreign firm appointing them as
representative or agent. This document should clearly indicate the
validity of the contract, the sales area covered by the agent, the
financial terms, and whether the exporting firm has the right to appoint
other agents in other areas of the country. Legal counsel is
recommended in drawing up the contract, which enables the agent to
participate on behalf of the foreign firm in government tenders. The
usual commission in Bolivia varies from 5 to 10 percent, depending on
the product and the agreement reached by the interested parties.
Import houses in Bolivia are normally relatively large, although there
are some small, well-established importers. These firms import for
their own use and also represent foreign firms on a commission basis.
Many operate general merchandise outlets. Larger importers have
subsidiaries and branches throughout the country, as well as sub-
distributors, and a sales force to canvass retailers, wholesalers, and
consumers. This method offers the U.S. exporter a degree of financial
security, as the importer assumes the risk of importing general
merchandise. More importantly, U.S. exporters via their agents are also
allowed to sell to government agencies in response to tenders.
WHOLESALE AND RETAIL MERCHANDISING
Thousands of Bolivians are engaged in merchandising, usually in small
facilities or as street vendors. Although many goods are available
through wholesalers, a significant percentage enters the country as
contraband, thus avoiding the usual tax and tariff regulations. In
addition, many wholesalers import directly and then distribute goods
through their own retail outlets in major cities plus through other
Many retail establishments are small operations, often family owned.
Others are direct outlets run by local producers. Over half of
Bolivia's manufactured products are nondurable consumer goods such as
food, beverages, coffee, clothing, and shoes.
The main distribution center is La Paz, Bolivia's largest city and the
seat of government. Most import houses, distributors, and agencies use
La Paz as their major central outlet, though some are located in
Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.
There is no special legislation regarding franchising in Bolivia.
However, any foreign company wanting to grant a specific franchise in
Bolivia must first register the brand name with the Office of Industrial
Property, in the Secretariat of Industry and Commerce. Once the brand
name is registered, the foreign company may grant the local company a
franchise through a contract specifying the terms of mutual agreement.
Setting up a local branch or subsidiary provides a greater advantage
when selling and servicing machinery to government agencies or to
Joint venture operations are ruled by the Investment Law and the Supreme
Decree 22526 of June 13, 1990.
A joint venture in Bolivia is defined as a specific business venture
carried out by two parties with separate legal licenses. Once the
objectives are clearly defined, a contract is signed between the parties
and each party is liable for the percentage owed. If one of the parties
has other business interests, these are not included in the joint
venture operations, unless specifically stated. Corporations and/or
individuals, foreign or domestic, may enter into joint venture
agreements. Foreign companies are not required to have a local legal
license in advance. However, they must have legal documents that show
their legal status in the country of origin.
STEPS TO ESTABLISHING AN OFFICE
Foreign investments are welcome in Bolivia. There are specific laws
designed to facilitate the bureaucratic requirements in order to
establish an office in Bolivia.
We strongly suggest that companies wishing to establish an office in
Bolivia hire the services of a local attorney to avoid unnecessary
delays and pitfalls.
Under Bolivia's commercial code, business can be conducted under the
following types of business entities:
1. Corporation (Sociedad Anonima, S.A.)
Owners of capital are described as shareholders.
2. Private companies (Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada, S.R.L.)
Owners of capital are described as quotaholders and have limited
3. General Partnership (Sociedad Colectiva, S.C.)
Participants are described as partners. Partners are responsible for
joint and individual liability.
4. Limited Partnership (Sociedad en Comandita Simple, S.C.S.)
Participants are described as partners. There are two types of
partners: General Partners (Socios Colectivos), who have unlimited
liability, and Limited Partners (Socios en Comandita) who have limited
5. Limited Partnership Company (Sociedad en Comandita por acciones,
Owners of capital are described as shareholders and partners.
6. Branch of a foreign company.
7. Sole Proprietorship.
The corporation, private company and branch are the most common vehicles
for foreign investment.
Taxation on foreign companies is similar to that applied to local
companies. Starting in 1995 all companies are compelled to pay a tax
equal to 25 percent of profits as of the end of the year. The previous
system required a tax paid equivalent to three percent of a company's
declared assets. The new system should be more beneficial to foreign
investment, especially for U.S. companies, because they should be
allowed to use their tax paid in Bolivia as a tax credit in the U.S.,
under the world-wide income taxation system. Companies should consult a
knowledgeable accounting firm in Bolivia for more detailed information.
It is essential that U.S. firms be formally represented in Bolivia
through import houses, commission or independent sales agents, local
distributors, or local subsidiaries.
Periodic visits by representatives of U.S. suppliers are likewise
essential in order to provide training and assistance to the distributor
or agent and to establish personal contact with customers.
ADVERTISING AND TRADE PROMOTION (INCLUDING LISTING OF MAJOR NEWSPAPERS
AND BUSINESS JOURNALS)
The Bolivia advertising industry has grown and is now more professional
and competitive than before. The tremendous increase in private
television channels now in operation prompted the industry to devote
special attention to TV commercial spots. La Paz remains the principal
advertising center. Nineteen ad agencies operate in Bolivia, of which
Contacto Ltda, Prisa Ltda, Avila Publicidad, and Multicomunicacion are
the leaders. All 19 are members of the Association of Advertising
Agencies. The Association's address is:
Asociacion Boliviana de Agencias de Publicidad, Casilla 985, Calle
Vicenta Eguino 408, La Paz, Bolivia. Telephone (591-2) 363133, Fax:
(591-2) 363312, Cable: ABAP. La Paz contact is Edgar Aguirre,
Advertising agencies usually charge a 15 percent commission, although
this percentage is negotiable.
Television is the principal form of advertising, followed by newspapers
and radio. According to the latest statistics supplied by the
Association of Advertising Agencies, television accounts for 80 percent
of advertising expenditures. Eight percent goes for newspaper and
magazine ads and seven percent for radio spots. Other media such as
movie theaters, neon signs, billboards and direct mailing account for
the remaining five percent.
Television: Except for one government-owned national TV broadcasting
station, all other regional TV stations are in private hands. Eight
belong to the major state universities.
Only the government station is considered "national" because it alone
transmits to all areas of Bolivia. The other stations beam their
signals only to the major cities. All privately-owned regional and
university TV stations have to rent the interconnection system from
ENTEL, the national telecommunications company, to broadcast nationally.
There are also nine private cable TV systems in the cities of La Paz,
Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. One of them, Video Cable Universal, wholly-
owned by the U.S. company Comtech Supply Inc., has installed the latest
fiber optic technology (1994). There is currently a small-scale price
war in La Paz between the hard-wire VCU and the UHF-based cable
Latest data available on the profitability of the TV and radio
broadcasting industry showed a total profit for all companies of $18
million (not all companies are profitable). The industry is currently
(June 1995) regulated by the Direccion de Telecommunicaciones
(Telecommunications Directorate), but would be regulated by a
Superintendency of Telecommunications once ENTEL is capitalized in the
fall of 1995. The Directorate controls hours for broadcasting but no
price controls on commercial time exit.
La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba combined have 30 of the countries 84
broadcasting stations, 74 of which are VHF, the others UHF. All TV
stations have color transmission, using the U.S. system (NTSC), with 525
lines and 50 cycles. In 1994, there were approximately 250,00 black and
white TV sets and 500,000 color TV sets in use throughout the country.
RADIO: All but two radio stations are in private hands (one of the two
belongs to the military, the other to the central government). Radio
stations are popular here, in part because radios are cheap and can
bring entertainment and news to the vast majority of the population that
can't afford television. It is also widely used to reach the large
illiterate population, over 50 percent of the total population of 7
million. The last year or two has seen a big increase in new FM radio
stations throughout the country. La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba
account for 160 of the country's 244 stations. Nearly half of the
stations--118--are AM; 70 are short-wave, and 56 FM.
The approximately 3.5 million radios in Bolivia reach an audience of
some 4.5 million people. Radio stations are very effective in reaching
rural populations, particularly given the proliferation of programs in
the two dominant native languages, Aymara and Quechua.
NEWSPAPERS: Newspapers are the second most important advertising
vehicle. The five newspapers in La Paz have a daily circulation between
30,000 and 80,000 copies. The major La Paz newspapers are Presencia, La
Razon, El Diario, Ultima Hora and Hoy, all of which are circulated
nationally. The major newspapers from Santa Cruz, El Mundo, and from
Cochabamba, Los Tiempos, are also sold nationally.
THEATERS: There are about 25 motion picture theaters in La Paz, with an
estimated total seating capacity of 20,000.
Only two U.S. market research firms, Coopers and Lybrand and Price
Waterhouse, currently operate in Bolivia. However, 10 Bolivian market
research firms represent foreign consulting companies. Most of these
firms also provide engineering and industry feasibility studies. An
updated list of consulting firms and their services is available in the
Economic/Commercial section of the U.S. Embassy in La Paz.
All market research and consulting companies are required to register
with the National Association of Consulting Companies. All
correspondence to the Association may be addressed as follows:
Asociacion Nacional de Empresas Consultoras (ANEC)
Casilla 8560, Edif. Mutual La Primera, Bloque B, Piso 5, Oficina. 6, La
Paz, Bolivia. Contact is Maria Eugenia Leon, Secretary, telephone (591)
(2) 324532, fax (591)(2) 354351
Bolivia's open market economy does not impose price controls on most
products. Price is set freely by supply and demand, except for two
commodities, petroleum, set by the central government, and the most
commonly sold bread rolls, whose prices are set by the municipal
SALES SERVICE/CUSTOMER SUPPORT
The service and maintenance provided by local agents of U.S. companies
are probably the most important competitive factor in helping them
compete successfully against other foreign suppliers. U.S. suppliers
have traditionally provided sales services by training their local
agents. The competitive advantage of U.S. products against similar
European and Japanese products is in price, quality, reputation, and
SELLING TO THE GOVERNMENT
Government activities traditionally represent approximately 40 percent
of Bolivia's GDP. The government and its publicly-owned corporations
and agencies are the main buyers of machinery, equipment, materials, and
other products and services. They are legally required to call for bids
when proposed purchases are above 100,000 Bolivianos (notated as "Bs."
and equivalent to approximately 4.78 Bs. per U.S. dollar exchange rate
as of mid-June 1995). Although any local or foreign firm can present
proposals for government bids, only those firms legally established
under Bolivian law may sign contracts, if awarded, for government
purchases. Thus, it is important for U.S. companies to have a local
Due to the capitalization process, and because most of the larger
governmental entities will have private administration by the end of
1995/mid-1996, the Bolivian Government decided that as of March 20,
1995, all public entities interested in purchasing goods or contracting
services will have different options based on the amount of the
transactions (per Supreme Decree 23981 and Supreme Resolution 215475),
as described below:
A) Small purchases: Each institution may purchase directly from its own
budget without calling for bids, if the purchase does not exceed 20,000
Bs. (approx $4,184 at the exchange rate of 4.78 Bs./dollar as of June
B) Direct invitation: When the purchase is above 20,000 Bs but does not
exceed 600,000 Bs.
C) Exceptional contracts: Purchases of national security items for the
Armed Forces or any other products or services of national interest,
with no limit in value.
D) Public bid: When the purchase is above 600,000 Bs. (approx $125,523
as of 6/95).
Bid specifications containing technical and commercial requirements will
be available through the relevant government entity and will be
published three times consecutively in local media at least 30 days
before the bid deadline.
The two contracting offices currently working in Bolivia, the British
Government corporation Crown Agents, and the French Government
corporation C3D, with whom the Bolivian Government signed contracts
years ago to administer government purchases, may still arrange
purchases for government entities that require their services or do not
have the technical capability to prepare and conduct its purchases.
Those agencies then will submit the terms of reference or the technical
specifications as appropriate. Public sector procurement of goods and
services requires competition and agreement between parties.
The qualifying procedure and the awarding decision is entirely in the
hands of the Chief Executive Officer of the public entity. The CEO may,
however, delegate this decision to a four member qualifying commission,
established with high executives and technical staff of the public
entity. Domestic goods and services receive a 10 percent preference in
any bidding in order to protect local industry.
When a project is financed by an international institution (World Bank,
Inter-American Development Bank), the bids follow that institution's own
The proposals must be presented in Bolivian territory. Bolivian law
specifies that American or other foreign firms interested in providing
goods and services to the Bolivian Government must have a local address
in Bolivia and a legal representative or a local agent in order to sign
the contract, if awarded.
Bid specifications will include specific instructions on how to present
the bid. Tender terms vary according to the requirements of the
government agency issuing the tender. Both the price and the quality of
the product/service will be considered when awarding the contract.
PROTECTING YOUR PRODUCT FROM IPR INFRINGEMENT
A foreign company wishing to market and protect its
product/trademark/name in Bolivia must first register the brandname,
etc. with the Office of Industrial Property in the Secretariat of
Industry and Commerce, located on the Avenida Camacho, corner with Calle
Bueno in downtown La Paz. Protection of intellectual property in
Bolivia is nearly non-existent; companies should be prepared to take
their case to the courts in order to protect their IPR rights.
NEED FOR A LOCAL ATTORNEY
A local attorney will be required in order to establish a company in
Bolivia or to register a brand name with the Office of Industrial
Property. A complete list of patent and commercial attorneys, as well
as general practice attorneys, is available in the Economic/Commercial
section of the U.S. Embassy in La Paz.
--CHAPTER V: LEADING SECTORS FOR U.S. EXPORTS AND INVESTMENTS -
BEST PROSPECTS FOR NON-AGRICULTURAL GOODS AND SERVICES.
PART 1. MINING SECTOR, RANK 1, (MIN)
PART 2. Narrative: Mining remains one of the two most important sectors
in the Bolivian economy, generating almost 50 percent of Bolivia's
foreign exchange. The Bolivian Government is actively seeking foreign
investment in the mining and metallurgical sub-sectors.
Historically, about 50 percent of all mining equipment was purchased by
the state-owned mining company, COMIBOL, or BAMIN, the now-defunct
state-owned bank which specialized in the mining sector. COMIBOL now is
nearly bankrupt itself, and as a result, nearly 90 percent of all sales
since 1990 have gone to the private sector.
The best sales prospects for mining equipment: equipment for medium-
sized open pit mines and heap leaching operations, and for small- and
medium-sized alluvial gold mining cooperatives.
For medium-sized open pit operations, best prospects include drills
(open pit production drills), crushers and pulverizers, conveyors,
compressors, front-loaders, bulldozers, 15- to 30-ton heavy-duty trucks,
gravimetric or flotation concentrators, and pumps.
For the small miners, best prospects include small drills, front-
loaders, crushers, concentration tables, flotation concentrators, hand
tools, and explosives.
1994 1995 1996
A. TOTAL MARKET SIZE 9.032 12.0 14.0
B. TOTAL LOCAL PRODUCTION 0 0 0
C. TOTAL EXPORTS 0 0 0
E. IMPORTS FROM THE U.S. 3.056 4.2 5.0
The above statistics are unofficial estimates, in U.S. dollars.
PART 1. HYDROCARBONS SECTOR, RANK 2, (OGS)
PART 2. Narrative: The chief potential trade opportunity in the
hydrocarbons sector for 1995-1996 is the proposed $600 million gas
pipeline (488 kms) to Brazil from the city of Santa Cruz (the Brazilian
portion of the line is estimated to be worth over $1.5 billion). A 1993
contract to carry out the project, with a total length of 1,800 kms and
estimated total cost of $2.5 billion, is still being renegotiated with
the Brazilians as of June 1995. Price and market issues are still
unresolved. YPFB, the state-owned Bolivian petroleum company (until its
capitalization in late 1995/early 1996), and Petrobras of Brazil have
agreed on the relative percentages of participation in the pipeline.
Enron Development Corp. of Houston is the strategic partner of YPFB,
while the BTB consortium (British Gas, Tenneco, and BHP) is helping
Petrobras. Petrobras will have 15 percent of the Bolivian portion of
the pipeline, with YPFB having the balance (although shared with Enron);
YPFB will have 20 percent of the Brazilian portion of the pipeline,
while Petrobras will have 51 percent and the BTB consortium the balance
(note: this percentage could change as the Government of Brazil recently
ended Petrobras' monopoly). A second natural gas pipeline project, from
Tarija in the south to northern Chile, is being discussed but probably
won't happen. YPFB, ENAP (the Chilean oil company) and BHP were looking
into the project. Other pipeline projects are being considered to
Paraguay and Peru.
YPFB's capitalization program is a great opportunity for U.S. investors,
and U.S. petroleum companies are interested in the plan.
A total of 19 foreign companies have exploration/exploitation contracts
with YPFB, including U.S. companies Diamond Shamrock (formerly
Occidental Bolivia), Tesoro Petroleum, Chevron, Mobil, Santa Fe, Texaco,
Exxon and Phillips (Maxus, recently purchased by YPF of Argentina, also
is here). Other foreign and U.S. corporations have or are in the
process of negotiating contracts. Bolivia allows exploration of large
blocks up to 1.5 million hectares.
YPFB is currently the largest user of oil and gas equipment. However,
exploration and exploitation by private companies are increasing, and
thus their need for drilling machinery equipment, pipelines and services
will expand rapidly if large oil or natural gas fields are discovered.
The Bolivian-Brazilian gas pipeline project will generate a tremendous
demand for pipeline goods. YPFB will continue to need pipeline and
drilling machinery and equipment, wellheads and pumps. The
capitalization of YPFB in late 1995/early 1996 should see even more
investment as the private partner comes on-line. Currently most of the
foreign oil companies contract or purchase exploration drilling
1994 1995 1996
A. TOTAL MARKET SIZE 2.9 1.4 5.0
B. TOTAL LOCAL PRODUCTION 0 0 0
C. TOTAL EXPORTS 0 0 0
D. TOTAL IMPORTS 2.9 1.4 5.0
E. IMPORTS FROM THE U.S. 1.63 .8 3.5
The above statistics are unofficial estimates, in U.S. dollars.
--CHAPTER VI: TRADE REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS -
TARIFF AND IMPORT TAXES
The following describes the calculation of charges imposed on imports to
Bolivia, including the customs tariff, domestic taxes, and customs fees.
Bolivian import charges are more cumbersome than costly; however, most
import charges, including domestic taxes (most of which are creditable)
and fees, range from 30-45 percent, considerably more than the stated 5
or 10 percent tariff.
1. The CIF (cost, including insurance and freight) border value of the
2. Inspection company fees: SGS or Inspectorate, the two official GOB
inspection companies, charge 1.92 percent of the FOB cost of the
3. Customs tariff: a 10 percent flat rate is applied to (1), unless the
products are listed as capital goods by Bolivian presidential decree, in
which case the rate is 5 percent.
4. Customs Warehouse fee: for GOB customs warehouses (AADAA) within the
country not yet privatized, a 0.5 percent fee is charged on (1). If
products remain in the warehouse over 30 days, a 2 percent fee is
charged on (1) for up to 90 days. Private customs warehouses, now in
operation at the El Alto (which serves La Paz), Cochabamba and Santa
Cruz airports, allow only a five day grace period, and base their rates
on weight rather than value. The GOB plans to eventually privatize all
5. Internal Revenue Service (Renta) fees: Value added tax (IVA) is
charged at 14.94 percent effective rate on (1+2+3+4+7+8A+8B+9). Note
that this IVA tax payment can later be offset against the importer's
value added tax liability, upon resale. Using the example of the
imported car described below in paragraph 9, if the importer retails the
car for $18,000, he is obliged to pay 13 percent of that amount, $2,340,
to the government as a value added tax. However, that amount can be
reduced by the $1,723.80 of value added tax paid at the time the car was
released from Customs.
A problem arises if the importer does not sell any product domestically,
as is the case with petroleum companies in the exploration phase. This
applies to the equipment imported by the oil companies that cannot be
re-exported, like pipe and drill bits. Machinery that will be re-
exported, such as helicopters and seismic equipment, can be imported
free of duty and taxes under the RITEX system, which allows for the
temporary import of equipment.
6. Specific consumption tax (ICE) is charged at an additional
percentage rate on (1+2+3+4+7+8A+8B+9) if the product is defined as a
luxury good, such as automobiles (18%), household appliances (10%),
perfumes (20%), cosmetics (30%), liquors (50%), cigarettes (50%), and
7. Customs forms and fees: the Bolivian Customs office charges between
$50-60 for the forms and fees required for each shipment.
8. Customs broker charges:
A. The following rates are applied to (1) for land cargo and CIF
airport value for air cargo, as customs broker fees:
From USD 1 to 10,000 is 2 percent
10,001 to 20,000 is 1.5 percent
20,001 to 30,000 is 1.25 percent
30,001 to 50,000 is 1 percent
50,001 to 100,000 is 0.75 percent
100,001 and above is 0.5 percent
B. In addition, customs brokers charge 17.65 percent over the value of
their bill to cover their IVA tax liability.
9. Specific chambers, such as the Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and
Construction, charge an additional fee between .03 and .04 percent of
Because of the complex Bolivian Customs system, we urge U.S. exporters
to verify the real amount of total duties payable to enter Bolivia. The
Economic and Commercial section of the U.S. Embassy in La Paz can
provide a list of reliable customs brokers who can expedite paperwork.
Following is a practical example of how Bolivia import charges are
imposed on an automobile with a FOB price of $9,000 and a CIF border
value of $10,000.
IMPORT STRUCTURE IMPORT CHARGE
1. CIF BORDER VALUE: USD 10,000.
2. INSPECTION COMPANY FEE : 1.92 PERCENT
OF USD 9,000 USD 172.80
3. CUSTOM TARIFF : 10 PERCENT OF USD
10,000 USD 1,000
4. CUSTOMS WAREHOUSE: 0.5 PERCENT OF USD
10,000 USD 50
5. VALUE ADDED TAX (IVA) : 14.94 PERCENT
OF USD 11,538.10 (10,000+172.80+1,000+50
+50+200+35.30+30) USD 1,723.80
6. SPECIFIC CONSUMPTION TAX (ICE) : 18
PERCENT OF USD 11,538.10 (10,000+172.80
+1,000+50+50+200+35.30+30) USD 2,076.86
7. CUSTOMS FORMS USD 50
8A. CUSTOMS BROKER FEE : 2 PERCENT OF USD
10,000 USD 200
8B. CUSTOMS BROKER CHARGE : 17.65 PERCENT
OF USD 200 USD 35.30
9. SPECIFIC CHAMBERS : 0.03 PERCENT OF
USD 10,000 USD 30
TOTAL TARIFF, TAXES AND FEES TO WITHDRAW
CAR FROM CUSTOMS : USD 5,338.76
(OR 44.15 PERCENT OF THE CIF BORDER VALUE)
As noted in paragraph 5, the $1,723.80 value added tax paid by the
importer reduces the importer's tax liability when the car is resold.
So subtracting that amount means the actual import tariff and fees
amount to $3,614.96 or 36.14 percent of the CIF border value.
Import licenses are currently required only for firearms.
Pharmaceutical products have to be registered in the Secretariat of
Health and approved under World Health Organization guidelines.
Import permits from the Secretariat of Industry and Commerce are
required for used clothing and rags. The permit must be obtained prior
to shipping. These items must also have a sanitary certificate from the
proper health authorities in the exporting country. There are no
special non-tariff requirements affecting the import of other used
In order to become a legal exporter from Bolivia, the interested company
must obtain a legal solicitorship.
Once the solicitorship is obtained, the local company must register with
SIVEX, the Exporters Single Window System (Sistema de Ventanilla Unica
del Exportador) at the Secretariat of Industry and Commerce.
In order to proceed with an export shipment, the exporter must present
the following documents: commercial invoice, packing list, and a
certificate of inspection issued by one of the two government-contracted
inspection companies. Then the Customs authority issues the exporter's
bond. If the exported product is animal or vegetable, a sanitary
certificate must be obtained from the Secretariat of Agriculture.
SIVEX then grants the certificate of origin which makes the exporter
eligible for duty-free treatment to countries offering Bolivia duty-free
The following five documents should be presented to Customs for all
shipments to Bolivia. It is not necessary to present these documents to
a Bolivian consulate in the United States.
SELLER'S COMMERCIAL INVOICE
This invoice may be completed in either Spanish or English on the
shipper's letterhead. The invoice must include a detailed description
of the products by item, the unit price, and the total FOB price. The
invoice must also include the freight costs, either air or ocean, and
the insurance to the port of destination. If the invoice does not
include insurance and freight, Bolivian Customs will charge 5 percent of
the FOB price. This is necessary because the value added tax is
calculated on the basis of the CIF price.
BILL OF LADING OR AIRWAYBILL
The bill of lading must be presented with two original bills, signed and
sealed by the freight forwarder, and two non-negotiable copies. One of
the bills of lading, or a copy, should accompany the original bill and
the commercial invoice. Bills of lading may not be drawn to the order
of the shipper. However, they may be drawn to the order of the
consignee, who is permitted to endorse it to a third party. For air
cargo, the airwaybill is the bill of lading.
Customs requires a copy of the insurance policy to calculate the value
The packing list facilitates Customs inspections and is beneficial to
the importers in case of loss.
Pre-shipment inspection is required on imported products with a FOB
value of $1.00 or more. Overseas agencies under contract to the
Bolivian government administer the program; inspections may be performed
in the port of origin or in Bolivia by either SGS Control Services in
New York at (212) 482-8700, or SGS Government Programs in Miami at (305)
592-0410, or by Inspectorate in Miami at (305) 599-1124.
Sanitary and purity certificates: certificates of origin indicating
state of health are required for the import of live animals. Purebred
livestock imported for breeding purposes also require a pedigree
certificate. Live plants and all seeds, except vegetable and flower
seeds, require sanitary certificates.
Pharmaceuticals are subject to strict quality control regulations.
Imports must be accompanied by a certificate of analysis in Spanish,
which may be issued by a reliable manufacturer. This certificate must
include expiration dates.
Labels on pharmaceutical products should be in Spanish. In addition,
pharmaceuticals must be registered with the Secretariat of Health before
they are imported.
Food shipments require a sanitary certificate issued by the pertinent
authority of the exporting country, i.e. the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
Foodstuffs may be subject to analysis by an official entity in Bolivia,
and most food and beverage labels must be registered in Bolivia.
Exporters are encouraged to check with importers regarding relevant
policies prior to shipment.
For specific information regarding existing foreign agricultural
standards and testing, packaging and certification systems, contact the
Technical Office for International Trade, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture,
Building 1072, Barc-East, Beltsville, MD 20705, tel: 301-344-2651.
For more information on procedures relating to animals and plants, and
their by-products, contact the Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service (APHIS), U.S. Department of Agriculture, 6505 Beltcrest Road,
Hyattsville, MD 20782; Tel (301) 436-8590 (Veterinary services)/X8537
(Plant inspection). APHIS maintains a service office in Lima headed by
an officer based in Caracas, Venezuela.
Air cargo shipments require airwaybills instead of bills of lading.
Follow IATA and/or ICAO rules governing labeling and packaging of
dangerous and restricted goods as well as for issuance of the special
shipper's certificate required under IATA rules for such items.
Airlines will supply information and forms upon request.
An authorized customs broker must intervene for any parcel post valued
at over $100. A private person may receive parcel post valued up to
$100 without the intervention of a customs broker just by filing a
Customs form at the post office.
ENTRY AND WAREHOUSING
As a landlocked country, Bolivia maintains ports of entry in Chile,
Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay (by river) through free transit
agreements with each country. Arica, Chile, is generally considered to
be the best port of entry. Other main ports are Antofagasta, Chile;
Matarani and Ilo, Peru; Santos, Brazil; and Rosario, Argentina.
Bolivian Customs maintains warehousing facilities in these ports where
incoming goods may be stored for 90 days. The charge for Customs
storage is 0.5 percent of CIF for goods stored for each 30-day period or
fraction thereof. Once clearing documents are signed, goods must be
removed from storage within eight days to avoid an additional charge of
two percent of CIF.
Imported merchandise may be considered abandoned either by an explicit
request or by failure to claim it within the required 90 days. By law
such goods are subject to public auction, the proceeds of which go to
the interested party after expenses are paid.
If the importer wishes to remove his/her merchandise after the 90-day
period but before the auction takes place, he/she must pay a 5 percent
charge over the Customs tariff plus 2 percent of CIF. Due to the
expense and time involved in reshipment, U.S. exporters usually prefer
to sell refused goods in Bolivia.
Manufacturers may distribute products through international trade fairs.
When this channel is used, capital goods destined for the productive
sector enter under temporary import permission for an exhibition period
of 90 days, with a bank guarantee note of one percent over CIF value.
Within this period the goods may be nationalized or reexported. If
nationalized, duties for certain capital goods may be discounted by 50
percent under the preferential customs policy granted to international
The Temporary Importation Permit (TIP) is issued by the Customs
administration for goods intended as samples, exhibitions, natural
disaster relief machinery and equipment, equipment and apparatus for
testing and scientific research, aircraft and vehicles for tourism,
equipment for petroleum exploration and exploitation and other similar
items intended for reexport, and are allowed entry without payment of
duty under a bank bond covering all duties and customs fees and the
guarantee of a local customs brokers.
TIP is allowed for a period of ninety days, which can be extended only
once for an additional 90-day period. If a longer period is required,
the local customs broker, on behalf of the importer, must obtain a
special permit valid for one year from the Ministry of Finance. In
order to obtain the one year special permit, the importer must have a
contract to justify the temporary admission.
LABELING, MARKING REQUIREMENTS
Special labeling indicating origin and type of merchandise is not
required for imports to Bolivia. However, retail packages must show
weight or measure of contents in metric units. Special regulations
governing cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco also exist.
All goods shipped by ship to Bolivia pass through foreign ports of
entry. Packages and containers should clearly indicate gross weight in
kilograms, serial numbers, and the words "en transito a Bolivia." For
Chilean ports, markings must be stenciled.
Prohibited items include: firearms and other weapons without special
permission from the Ministry of Defense; pharmaceuticals and drugs not
registered in the country; spoiled or adulterated beverages and food
products, or products that contain noxious substances, selected liquors,
such as pisco and similar products; diseased animals; plants, fruits,
seeds and other vegetables that contain parasites and germs, or plants
that are declared harmful by the Secretariat of Agriculture; foreign
lottery bills; advertisements imitating money or bank certificates,
postage stamps and other government-valued papers; pornographic books,
booklets, paintings, engravings, figures and other obscene objects;
roulette machines and devices used for gambling; merchandise with the
same registered trademark as a product made in Bolivia; used clothing
without a sanitary certificate from the country of origin (except in
personal baggage); used hats and shoes (except in personal baggage);
vicuna skins, hair and products.
FREE TRADE ZONES/WAREHOUSES
Bolivia has established eight free trade zones (FTZ), five of which are
now in full operation: El Alto (serving La Paz), Puerto Aguirre,
Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and Oruro. The others in Desaguadero, on the
border with Peru, San Matias in Santa Cruz, and Guayaramerin in the
Beni, are not yet in full operation. The other in Cobija (in the
northern part of Bolivia), although established years ago is not
attractive to investors because of the lack of roads and other basic
infrastructure. Bolivian FTZs are regulated by the National Council of
Free Trade Zones (CONZOF), created in the 1990 Investment Law. FTZs are
operated by private companies which are selected by the government
through public bid. There are special procedures which must be followed
to obtain approval to operate in these zones. Export processing zones
have up to 180 days duty-free treatment (RITEX) to assemble kits and
produce parts for reexport.
SPECIAL IMPORT PROVISIONS
Samples and advertising materials are usually subject to regular duty
rates, except those articles specifically prepared as samples, for
example, shoes cut in half, small patches of fabric, and pharmaceuticals
and liquors contained in small bottles marked "free sample (muestra
gratuita)." If commercial samples do not exceed $25 in value, they do
not require commercial invoices.
DUTY EXEMPTIONS AND REDUCTIONS
Exemptions/reductions are permitted for: imports made under current
international agreements and government contracts; imports under
intraregional agreements that specifically provide for duty exemptions;
imports made by diplomatic and consular corps; travelers' personal
effects not exceeding $300; imports of gold, except jewelry.
MEMBERSHIP IN FREE TRADE ARRANGEMENTS
Bolivia is making a determined effort to save its existing bilateral
trade agreements with Mercosur countries, and hopes to acquire
preferential status as Mercosur moves toward imposing a common external
tariff. At the same time, Bolivia intends to continue as a member of
the Andean Pact, which has removed all internal trade barriers. Bolivia
has signed bilateral trade agreements with other South American
countries, eliminating or reducing tariffs on limited lists of products.
Bolivia most recently signed a free trade agreement with Mexico in
September, 1994. The European Union, Japan and the United States allow
most Bolivian exports to enter their markets at duty-free or duty-
reduced rates. Bolivia acceded to the GATT in 1989, and ratified its
membership in September, 1990. The Bolivian Congress should ratify
Bolivia's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) sometime in
The following is a list of the countries with which Bolivia currently
has trade agreements: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Andean Pact
(Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela), Peru, Chile, Mexico, EU, USA (ATPA
trade preferences, not a trade agreement).
--CHAPTER VII: INVESTMENT CLIMATE -
OPENNESS TO FOREIGN INVESTMENT
The Bolivian government is anxious to attract foreign investors. It
knows that large infusions of foreign investment are needed to achieve
significant per-capita growth. The GOB in late June 1995 completed the
capitalization process with the first of its six largest parastatals to
be partially sold to foreign investors. ENDE, the electric power
company, sold its three generating plants separately to three U.S.
companies, who competed in an open and transparent process. The GOB
hopes capitalization will inject large sums of capital, management
expertise and new technology into its state-owned companies. The
government will give management contracts and 50 percent of ownership to
the foreign investors who offer the best investment packages for each of
the six public companies to be capitalized. The GOB cannot afford to
maintain levels of investment needed in most of the companies to be
capitalized. The five remaining companies are in the oil,
telecommunications, transportation (airline, railroad) and smelting
(tin, antimony) sectors. These companies are supposed to be under
private management by the end of 1995, except for the smelter, which is
planned for 1996. The GOB also realizes it needs the management
expertise of the private sector to help reduce waste, corruption and
mismanagement in its public corporations. Many of the sectors could
stand an infusion of newer technology as well. In the mining sector,
the GOB is willing to sell post-revolution mines and concessions, and to
enter into joint-venture or leasing contracts for mines nationalized in
the 1952 revolution, all in the hope of reactivating the sector.
Since 1985, 100 percent foreign ownership is allowed with no requirement
to register foreign investments. There is no screening of foreign
investment or preferential or discriminatory treatment applied to
In 1990 and 1991, the government passed three important laws designed to
set forth clear rules of the game for private investment. The 1990
Investment Law guarantees all investors national treatment, free
currency conversion, unrestricted remittances, and the right to
international arbitration in most industries. New mining and
hydrocarbons laws authorize joint ventures with the state-owned
corporations and provide a new tax system designed to allow foreign
firms paying taxes in Bolivia to obtain foreign tax credits in their
home countries. The Mining Law also allows foreign firms to operate
within the 50-kilometer border belt in joint venture or service
contracts with Bolivian mining companies, with the exception of firms
from the country adjacent to such border. The Hydrocarbons Law,
however, does not permit international arbitration in all cases, and
this restriction has kept the U.S. from signing a bilateral investment
treaty with Bolivia. The GOB is working on a new hydrocarbons law as
part of its capitalization program; its most recent draft includes a
provision allowing international arbitration. The government hopes to
have the law approved by Congress in August, 1995. The GOB has
consistently failed to meet previously scheduled dates for
New laws regarding banking and exports were passed in 1993. The Banking
Law legalized many activities that were previously not clearly legal,
such as factoring, leasing, issuing stocks and bonds, administering
mutual funds, and foreign currency hedging. Banks can now maintain
accounts in foreign currencies (as a matter of fact, over 95 percent of
deposits as of 6/94 were in dollar or dollar-pegged accounts). The
roles of the Central Bank and the Superintendency of Banks were defined,
as were capital and reserve requirements. The Export Law, designed to
make the tax system neutral vis-a-vis exports, grants tax rebates to
exporters. A hoped-for result is that Bolivian exports will become more
competitive. Also, a 1992 Privatization Law permits the GOB to sell
those state-owned companies not prohibited for sale by the constitution.
Smaller government companies are the main target of this law; the
largest government entities will be capitalized which means only 50
percent will be sold. The GOB has earned a little over USD 20 million
for firms privatized to date. The largest sale was USD 10 million for a
sugar mill. The government hopes to privatize between 75-100 companies
in 1995/96, with a combined worth of USD 60-100 million.
All oil exploration activity currently must be carried out via contract
with Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB), the
government-owned petroleum company. Most of the mines currently owned
by Comibol, the state-owned mining company, may not be purchased
outright, but may be operated in a joint venture or leasing contract
with COMIBOL. COMIBOL, however, is currently near bankruptcy, and has
now stated its willingness to enter into joint ventures or leasing
contracts for all of its holdings (previously Comibol had mines and
areas off limits to foreigners). Bolivia's long-distance telephone and
railroad companies are state-owned. The railroad company has large
debt, antiquated lines (narrow gauge) and equipment. The telephone
company, ENTEL, however, is a solid money-maker, and has been eager to
enter into joint ventures with foreign firms to provide additional
services. ENTEL earns a profit (USD 25 million in 1992, 20 million of
which reverted to the government). Although there is no restriction on
foreign ownership of land, the current land title system, dating from
the 1952 revolution's agrarian reform, makes direct investment difficult
in some rural areas of Bolivia. It is easier to contract or form joint
ventures with local agricultural producers. The GOB has said that
amending the agrarian titling law is also a priority and hopes to have
the Congress consider a bill next year.
Bolivia has one of the simplest and lowest tariff regimes in the region.
Capital goods are currently subject to a 5 percent tariff, with all
other imported goods taxed at 10 percent. An elimination of the capital
goods tariff was proposed by the current government in its pre-election
platform. Since taking office in August 1993, government officials have
dropped this proposal because they discovered the fiscal cupboard to be
bare. The list of products defined as capital goods has been expanded
considerably, though some investors believe it needs to be updated
annually in a systematic manner. Despite the simple tariff structure,
imports are subject to a number of additional taxes and fees which can
amount to another 15-35 percent. The Bolivian Customs system is being
partially privatized, with the goal of increasing efficiency and
eliminating opportunities for corruption.
There is no discrimination against foreign investors, other than the
legal prohibitions against international arbitration in the hydrocarbon
sector, and on mining concessions within 50 kilometers of the border.
However, Bolivian firms with mining concessions near the borders may
contract foreign partners to develop their mines.
U.S. and foreign firms are able to participate in government research
programs. Work permit, visa and residence requirements are not
discriminatory. There are no special incentives for investment, other
than new tax systems for hydrocarbon and mining companies which could
permit foreign companies to receive foreign tax credits in their home
Bolivia has signed Bilateral Investment Agreements with Germany, Italy,
France, Spain, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Brazil,
Mexico, China, Canada, Belgium, Great Britain, Sweden, Switzerland and
CONVERSION AND TRANSFER POLICIES
There is free currency conversion at local banks and exchange houses.
The official exchange rate is set by a daily auction of dollars managed
by the Central Bank. The Central Bank offers ten million dollars each
day but sets a secretly held minimum floor price for the dollars. In
this way the Central Bank has managed a steady depreciation of the
Boliviano in line with the inflation rate since 1985. The Central Bank
cannot ignore market forces because dollars can be legally bought and
sold on the streets and at the exchange houses. Since 1985, there has
always been adequate foreign exchange, so no queuing has been required.
The unofficial, street corner exchange rates are always within one
percent of the official rate. There are no restrictions on remittances.
There is little risk of devaluation of the Boliviano. The currency
depreciates at a regular rate, according to market forces. Depreciation
in 1994 was around 7 percent. Depreciation will be roughly 7-10 percent
in 1995, if trends continue (inflation is running at around 10 percent
for the last 12 months as of May 1995).
EXPROPRIATION AND COMPENSATION
Article 22 of the Bolivian Constitution provides that expropriation may
be imposed for the public good or when the property does not complete a
social purpose, if carried out in accordance with laws and with just
compensation. The Mining and Hydrocarbons Laws also provide for
expropriation of land when needed to develop the underlying mineral or
The last expropriation in Bolivia was in 1969 when the government
nationalized the petroleum concessions granted to the Bolivian Gulf Oil
Company. Although the compensation agreement between the Bolivian
government and Gulf Oil allowed for a 30-year payment period, the entire
compensation due to Gulf Oil was paid in 7 years. There have been no
cases of discrimination in expropriation involving U.S. companies.
There are laws which require joint venture contracts in the mining
sector, in certain circumstances.
Property and contractual rights may be enforced in Bolivian courts, but
the legal process is very time-consuming at best, and corrupt at worst.
For that reason, the National Chamber of Commerce, with assistance from
the U.S. Agency for International Development, has established a local
arbitration tribunal. The Investment Law provides that investors may
submit their differences to arbitration in accordance with the
constitution and international norms. However, the Hydrocarbons Law
permits international arbitration only for disputes over "technical"
issues. This restriction has prevented the U.S. from signing a
bilateral investment treaty with Bolivia. Most oil companies which have
exploration contracts with YPFB, the state-owned petroleum company,
define issues that will be considered "technical" in their contracts.
Corruption is an endemic problem; two Supreme Court judges, including
the Chief Justice, were removed from their positions in 1994 after they
were found guilty of asking for and accepting bribes. There is no overt
government interference in the court system, but judges in Bolivia are
political appointees and often respond to political pressures. Bolivia
does not accept nor enforce judgments of foreign courts. It has a
functional commercial code that dates from around 1939. There is no
bankruptcy law. Most, if not all, loans are therefore secured ones.
Creditors often will press criminal charges against debtors, although
imprisonment for debt was abolished recently. Property interests are
recognized and enforced. The GOB accepts binding international
arbitration in all sectors except hydrocarbons.
Bolivia has signed the convention to become a member of the
International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID),
but has not yet submitted the convention to its Congress for
ratification. Bolivia's Congress is currently considering ratifying the
New York Convention of 1958 on the recognition and enforcement of
foreign arbitral awards.
Bolivia imposes no performance requirements as conditions for
establishing, maintaining, or expanding an establishment, or for access
to tax or investment incentives.
RIGHT TO PRIVATE OWNERSHIP AND ESTABLISHMENT/PROTECTION OF PROPERTY
Foreign and domestic entities have the right to establish and own
business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity,
with obvious exceptions for national security or illegality, i.e.,
narcotics. Private entities may freely establish, acquire and dispose
of interests in business enterprises. All private enterprises enjoy the
same access to markets, credit, licenses and supplies as the public
enterprises, except that YPFB controls the domestic petroleum products
market. This market is supposed to be opened to competition as part of
the capitalization of YPFB, but details are still forthcoming. In the
last couple of years the GOB has allowed private airlines to compete
with the state-owned airline, LAB, on domestic routes. Purchasers of
property/businesses should consult legal counsel before entering into
contracts. Under Bolivia's Investment Law, foreign investors enjoy the
same rights as domestic investors.
PROTECTION OF PROPERTY RIGHTS
Bolivia's existing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) legislation is
weak and government enforcement efforts are nil. The only way currently
to ensure protection is to hire a good local attorney to chase down
offenders and take them to court.
The government is aware of the problem and is taking steps to modernize
its legislation and implementation capabilities. The government has
agreed to a modification of Andean Pact Decision 313, Decision 344,
which at least would provide a higher floor for patent and trademark
protection. The agreement increases patent protection from 15 to 20
years, offers parallel protection, gives patent protection to plant
species, and makes the agreement the floor, not the ceiling, for
individual agreements that Bolivia may strike with other countries on
IPR. The government will use Decision 344 as a guideline in the
legislation it is drafting to improve protection of intellectual
property rights. The GOB also negotiated a free-trade agreement with
Mexico in 1994, which requires a higher standard of IPR protection.
The current administration plans to enact a Supreme or Ministerial
Decree to implement those portions of Decision 344 which do not conflict
with existing law. Even though the Andean Pact Decisions should have
become law when they were published in the Andean Pact Gazette, the GOB
feels it needs to make the decisions a part of Bolivian law for them to
hold credence in court. This would be a stop-gap measure until the
full-fledged IPR law could be readied and passed by Congress. The GOB
also hopes to upgrade the technical capacity of the personnel and
computer equipment in the Industrial Property Office. Currently, the
Industrial Property Office responsible for registering patents and
trademarks has one attorney, four clerks, and one recently-acquired
computer. Records are still handwritten. In 1991, the Bolivian
Congress passed a new copyright and film/video law; regulations were
published in December, 1994. Bolivia has joined the World Intellectual
Property Organization, and Congress approved its accession to the Paris,
Geneva and Berne Conventions.
In 1995 Bolivia avoided being placed on the 301 Watch List, unlike its
Andean Pact neighbors. This was more due to Bolivia's relatively small
economy than to any action on its part, as the GOB has rarely taken
steps to protect IPR rights (some cassettes and videos were destroyed in
June 1995). At the time this report was published (end June 1995) the
International Intellectual Property Association (IIPA) has petitioned
the USG to end Bolivia's privileges under the Generalized System of
Preferences (GSP) and the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA).
Patent registration requests are reviewed by clerks for form rather than
substance. A notice of the proposed patent registration is then
published in the Official Gazette. If there are no objections within 50
days, a patent is then granted for a 15-year period. The patent must
then be used in Bolivia within two years in order to be valid.
Protection for the layout design of a computer chip is not specifically
protected under any law, but apparently can be patented.
Trademark registration is carried out similarly to patents, except that
the period for objections to a trademark registration is 18 months.
Once obtained, a trademark is valid for a ten-year, renewable term. It
becomes null if not used for an 18-month period. There are no
provisions to protect trade secrets.
The Bolivian Copyright Law, passed in April of 1992, provides IPR
protection to literary, artistic and scientific works for the lifetime
of the author plus 50 years. It protects the rights of Bolivian
authors, of foreign authors domiciled in Bolivia, and of foreign authors
published for the first time in Bolivia.
Foreigners not domiciled in Bolivia will enjoy protection under this law
to the extent provided in international conventions and treaties to
which Bolivia is a party. Bolivian copyright protection includes the
exclusive right to copy or reproduce work; revise, adapt or prepare
derivative works; distribute copies of the work; and publicly
communicate the work. The exclusive right to translate the work is not
explicitly granted in the law, but the law does prevent unauthorized
adaptation, transformation, modification and editing. The law provides
for IPR protection for computer programs and data bases to be
promulgated by separate regulations. Draft regulations for IPR on
software have been finished but are awaiting presidential approval. The
law does provide IPR protection to musical compositions, but does not
provide specific protection to sound recordings. Implementing
regulations are still forthcoming.
The Bolivian Film and Video Law, passed in December of 1991, contains
elements of IPR protection. The law created a National Movie Council
(CONACINE) to coordinate, control and carry out various activities
related to the movie industry. It requires all films and videos shown
or distributed in Bolivia to be registered with CONACINE and to show a
seal from CONACINE. The intent of the law was that films or videos not
bearing the CONACINE seal could be confiscated and burned.
TV stations are generally perceived to be the worst IPR offenders in
Bolivia, usually by showing films that are still in cinemas, thus
siphoning off business from the normal cycle of cinemas, pay-for-
TV/cable, home video, and network TV. Many stations do not pay rights
for showing TV programs.
REGULATORY SYSTEM: LAWS AND PROCEDURES
TRADE AND INVESTMENT BARRIERS
The Bolivian government has almost no trade or investment barriers.
Import licenses are required only for medicines, weapons, and chemicals
which can be used for processing cocaine. Products imported from the
other Andean Pact countries (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru)
enter Bolivia free of duty, which gives them some advantage over
products imported from the United States. However, Bolivia imports much
less from its Andean Pact neighbors than it does from the U.S. The U.S.
remains Bolivia's major trading partner.
The Investment Law of 1991 guarantees that foreign investors will be
accorded national treatment. It also guarantees remittances of profits
and dividends as well as convertibility of currency and unrestricted
imports required by domestic investments. Foreign investors may own up
to 100 percent of a Bolivian firm. The only restrictions on foreign
investments are the prohibition on mining and petroleum concessions to
foreigners within 50 kilometers of the border. However, the 1991 Mining
Law allows foreign investors access to the border areas as partners with
Bolivian companies which have the concessions.
It is Bolivian Government policy to promote free market competition.
However, there is no anti-monopoly law and there are still state-owned
monopolies, including the national long-distance telephone company
(ENTEL), the national railroad (ENFE), the national petroleum company
(YPFB), and to a lesser extent the national mining company (COMIBOL) and
the national electric company (ENDE). The government, as part of its
capitalization plan, approved legislation in 1994 creating independent
Superintendencies which will regulate and control utilities. Free
competition in those sectors will eventually be allowed; for example,
with ENTEL, the new owners will have a six-year monopoly on long-
distance service, while local cooperatives will have the same period to
offer local phone service without competition (assuming they meet
service and growth goals in their contract with the GOB). After six
years the entire telecommunications market will be thrown open.
Aside from petroleum prices, the Bolivian Central Government no longer
controls prices for goods or services, (Petroleum prices are controlled
because only the government-owned monopoly sells petroleum products.)
The GOB plans to deregulate petroleum prices in the near future but has
to devise a tax system which will compensate the government for lost
transfers once YPFB is capitalized. Until recently municipalities had
the power to control prices of electricity. Legislation passed in the
spring of 1994 gives the Central Government rate-setting authority in
sectors to be capitalized, which included the energy sector.
Municipalities still possess authority to set water, garbage collection,
and intra-city public transportation rates.
Bolivian tax laws are simple and fairly applied. Not too long ago, the
government modified its hydrocarbon and mining tax systems to allow
foreign investors to obtain foreign tax credits in their home countries.
The government sets a minimum monthly wage, currently around USD 42 (the
average monthly wage is closer to USD 100). Although nearly all workers
earn more than the minimum, it is significant because other benefits,
such as pensions, are pegged to the minimum wage. Factory workers earn
around USD 100 per month plus benefits. The government plans to
privatize the state social security system via capitalization.
It is possible for a company to obtain an exemption from the state
health care system if the company demonstrates that it will provide
adequate health services.
Bureaucratic procedures have been reduced, but plenty of red tape and
archaic policies still exist. One example is that all documents to be
notarized must be handwritten. The current administration, as did the
last, has vowed to de-bureaucratize the government and reduce
"hypercorruption," but this is proving a difficult task. Bribes paid by
hapless businessmen and women to move their paperwork through the
bureaucratic maze are common.
EFFICIENT CAPITAL MARKETS AND PORTFOLIO INVESTMENT
Historically, Bolivian commercial banks were closely-held operations
that lent only to those persons well known to the bank or to blue-chip
companies. Bolivian bankers are now becoming more sophisticated and
capable of evaluating future cash flows and expected rates of return.
Nevertheless, some foreign investors may not qualify for loans due to
Bolivian bankers' preference for local collateral. Since commercial
credit is generally extended on a short-term basis at fairly high
interest rates, most foreign investors prefer to obtain credit
elsewhere. Foreign banks have recently (June 1995) begun to enter the
Bolivian banking services market via mergers with local banks. This
should eventually increase the strength of the system, as the foreign
banks bring more capital and better management/cost controls, and avoid
lending to firms with which they have economic interests, which is the
biggest problem facing many Bolivian banks.
Another option available to established Bolivian companies is the
issuance of short- or medium-term debt on the local securities exchange.
The La Paz Securities Exchange opened in November 1989. Currently, its
principal activity is acting as a secondary market for Central Bank
Certificates of Deposit. However, it is increasing its activities in
bond issues. There are three Bolivian mutual funds which have been
approved by the local regulatory authority, the National Stock Market
Commission. The Commission is on the right track as a regulatory
agency, but is still in the initial phase of training its personnel and
establishing procedures. No companies issue stock. Hostile takeovers
are therefore non-existent.
Bolivia's banking system currently has around USD 2.3 billion in
deposits. In 1985 that number was around USD 70 million.
On paper, Bolivian accounting principles meet worldwide standards. In
fact, auditing standards are nowhere near world standards and many
businesses prefer the system of three sets of books to evade taxes. In
addition to the general problem of lack of prompt, effective judicial
decisions, lenders have great difficulty in foreclosing, and there is a
poor registry for creditors to register liens.
BILATERAL INVESTMENT AGREEMENTS
Bolivia has bilateral investment agreements in force with the U.K.,
Germany, and Switzerland, and has signed BIT's with Spain, Belgium,
Sweden and Argentina. The Argentine agreement is interesting because it
allows international arbitration which goes against the current
Hydrocarbons Law. The agreement will not be submitted to Congress for
ratification. The U.S. has not signed a BIT with Bolivia based upon
Bolivia's unwillingness to allow international arbitration in the
hydrocarbons sector. As mentioned, the GOB is addressing the problem in
the draft legislation for the hydrocarbons sector. Some members of the
government have indicated that the GOB is anxious to discuss a BIT with
the U.S., but only after the proposed changes to the Hydrocarbons Law
are (hopefully) approved by Congress later in 1995.
OPIC AND OTHER INVESTMENT INSURANCE PROGRAMS
An investment insurance agreement signed in 1985 by Bolivia and the
Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provides for a full range
of OPIC programs, including insurance, financing and use of OPIC's
opportunity bank. OPIC provides financing assistance through direct
loans and through guarantees in loans by private U.S. financial
institutions for U.S. investments in Bolivia. Since 1986, OPIC has
approved USD 106 million of loans for Bolivia and hopes to continue to
show strong support for U.S. investors in Bolivia. OPIC has noted a
growing number of new investors with interest in inconvertibility,
expropriation and political risk insurance from investors and is eager
to do more insurance business in Bolivia.
Since October of 1991, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
(MIGA) has offered a complete line of investment guarantees to foreign
investors in Bolivia.
In late 1993, the U.S. EXIMBANK decided to increase its exposure in
Bolivia. It has entered into three USD 10 million credit guarantee
facilities with local banks, with terms of up to five years. EXIM has
indicated its willingness to work directly with qualified private
companies on loans and insurance. EXIM is also willing to consider
individual transactions with Bolivian banks that do not yet have
sufficient net worth to qualify for the USD 10 million credit guarantee
facility. EXIM is not ready to do business with the government,
however. EXIM is also offering its political and commercial insurance
programs in Bolivia.
Labor Force: Of the 7-million people living in Bolivia, an estimated
2.3 million are in the labor force. According to a recent survey of
commercial establishments in the urban areas, 688,000 people work for
private and public companies, 173,000 people work for government
agencies (central, regional and municipal), 104,000 are unemployed and
some 516,000 are underemployed. That means about 820,000 people work in
agriculture. In fact, the 1992 census found that 42 percent of the
population still lives in the rural areas.
The legal minimum wage is only 42 dollars a month but the average wage
for a factory worker is about 100 dollars per month. Benefits,
including a Christmas bonus equal to one month's salary as well as
retirement payments, add another 30 percent to the wage bill for most
Most companies are unionized; all unions belong to the Confederation of
Bolivian Workers. However, the militant leaders of the Confederation
are often ignored by the rank-and-file workers. The labor law permits
Bolivian workers the right to organize and bargain collectively.
Bolivia has an abundant low-cost labor force. The official unemployment
rate in urban areas is 7 percent. That rate does not take into account
underemployment or rural unemployment. For purposes of the official
unemployment rate, a part-time street vendor is considered employed.
Foreign investors have found the labor force to be stable with low rates
of turnover, and with high levels of manual dexterity. There is not yet
a high level of skill in textile manufacturing in Bolivia.
Most firms enjoy positive relations between labor and management.
Employees in state-owned firms awaiting privatization and
capitalization, however, are not likely to welcome new owners, precisely
because they fear for their jobs. COB, the main umbrella labor union,
is likely to continue challenging the administration, especially if
capitalization results in initial job cuts, not growth. Bolivian labor
law guarantees workers the right of association, restricts child labor,
and provides for worker safety. Enforcement, however, is often lacking.
While there is little high-tech manufacturing or industry, relatively
untrained and uneducated workers in the mining industry have learned how
to use high-tech equipment at the country's largest private gold mine
owned by a U.S. company.
FOREIGN TRADE ZONES/FREE PORTS
Bolivia has established eight free trade zones (FTZ'S) in which foreign
investors enjoy the same investment opportunities as domestic investors.
Due to its land-locked status, neighboring countries also have granted
Bolivia duty-free zones. While most freight enters Bolivia via Arica,
Chile, the free trade zone in Puerto Suarez, on the border with Brazil,
has seen business boom in 1994-95.
CAPITAL OUTFLOW POLICY
The Bolivian Government does not restrict capital outflow, nor does it
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT STATISTICS
The Bolivian Government does not collect or publish data on the stock of
foreign direct investment, or on the flow of outbound investment by
Bolivians in other countries. The government estimates the inflow of
foreign investment based upon surveys and extrapolation from economic
growth statistics. The requirement for investment permits was
eliminated in 1985. The Bolivian Central Bank estimated that foreign
direct investment in 1994 came to USD 128 million. The general
consensus is that most foreign direct investment is in the mining and
MAJOR FOREIGN INVESTORS
The U.S. is the largest foreign investor in Bolivia, predominately in
the hydrocarbons and mining sectors. Argentina, Brazil, and Chile are
other important investors.
-CHAPTER VIII: TRADE AND PROJECT FINANCING -
DESCRIPTION OF BANKING SYSTEM
Bolivia's banking system is made up of the Central Bank and 18
privately-owned banks. Citibank is the only U.S. bank with a branch
office in Bolivia (La Paz). Commercial banks account for over 80
percent of the deposits and loan portfolio of the formal Bolivian
financial system. The remaining 20 percent is concentrated in savings
and loans, credit unions, and other financial institutions. As of June
30, 1995, total deposits in the banking system were $2.3 billion, of
which over 88 percent were in dollar denomination deposits.
All commercial banks provide regular banking services, accepting
deposits for both checking and savings accounts and offering loans on
short and medium term. Local banks are authorized to hold dollar-
denominated time deposits. The Central Bank performs functions similar
to those performed by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Central Bank also
provides government guarantees on loans to official agencies.
A new banking law, aimed at modernizing the Bolivian banking system, has
been in effect since April 1993. The previous banking law dated back to
1928 and had been amended numerous times, resulting in a web of
conflicting regulations. The new law, while not perfect, addresses such
emerging areas as factoring and leasing, parameters for bank holding
companies, regulatory roles of the Central Bank and the Superintendency
of Banks, how banks will interact with capital markets, and generally
ensures compatibility with the Commercial Code.
FOREIGN EXCHANGE CONTROLS AFFECTING TRADING
There are no foreign exchange controls. See the section entitled
'Conversion and Transfer Policies" under the Investment Climate section.
The Boliviano (BS.) is divided into units of 100 centavos, although
coins denominated at less than 50 centavos are rarely used. Travelers
checks, dollars and other currencies can be readily exchanged in
exchange houses, banks and major hotels. It is difficult to cash
personal checks in Bolivia as a non-resident. The Boliviano is freely
convertible for all transactions. As of June, 1995, the rate of
exchange was 4.79 Bs. for one U.S. dollar.
Several money exchange houses legally operating in Bolivia offer prompt
conversion of several currencies at legal rates, in addition to
For more detailed information on Bolivia's financial system, including
information on securities exchanges, debt-equity investment bonds,
export financing lines for Bolivian exporters, project facilities, and
financing for private enterprise development, consult the financing
guide published by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Latin
American/Caribbean Business Development Center.
GENERAL FINANCING AVAILABILITY
Credit is difficult to obtain, and is generally extended only on a
short-term basis. Interest rates range from 12 to 18 percent for loans
in U.S. dollars and from 28 to 36 percent for Boliviano loans without
maintenance of value provisions. (note: these were the rates as of June,
1995) Collateral requirements for all but the most valued clients are
very high. Interest rates are influenced by the Central Bank's
certificate of deposit rates, as well as by high administrative costs
resulting from bank operational inefficiency. Foreign companies are
eligible to borrow from the local financial system.
HOW TO FINANCE EXPORTS/METHODS OF PAYMENT
TYPES OF AVAILABLE EXPORT FINANCING AND INSURANCE (INCLUDING BILATERAL -
E.G. EXIMBANK, MULTILATERAL, AND LOCAL SOURCES)
International and bilateral organizations provide some credit lines at
lower interest rates. These lines come from the Inter-American
Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Andean Development
Corporation. They are channeled through the Central Bank for on-lending
to private Bolivian banks that make loans to the productive sector.
OPIC and EXIM currently offer insurance and/or financing products to the
Interested parties should consult the private lending offices of the
IDB, World Bank and CAF. OPIC and EXIM should also be consulted.
LIST OF BANKS WITH CORRESPONDENT U.S. BANKING ARRANGEMENTS (Interested
parties should consult ASOBAN, the local association of banks, for the
most up-to-date information): BHN Multibanco, Banco Boliviano Americano,
Citibank, Banco Mercantil, BISA, Banco de la Nacion Argentina, Banco
Nacional de Bolivia, Banco de Credito de Bolivia, Banco Real, Banco
Santa Cruz, Banco de la Union, Banco de La Paz, BIDESA. (The
Economic/Commercial section of the U.S. Embassy has a list of bank
officers, addresses, phone and fax numbers.)
-- CHAPTER IX: BUSINESS TRAVEL-
Most members of Bolivia's private sector are experienced entrepreneurs
with ample direct exposure to U.S. and European business customs and
procedures. Visiting U.S. travelers find their Bolivian counterparts
for the most part adept and sophisticated in their various fields of
interest. The local representative is a vital component in the
successful operation of foreign-based firms. In the case of investment
contracts, direct sales for major projects, and all government agency
purchases, a local representative is required by law.
With regard to product promotion and distribution, Bolivia's small
market requires that most agents represent more than one line of
merchandise. The amount of effort given to promoting a particular
product line is determined in part by the interest and support expressed
by the supplier, as well as by the agent's ability and interest. Given
the key role played by local representatives, the importance of
occasional personal visits from company representatives as well as
prompt, responsive handling of communications, cannot be overstated.
After a firm business relationship has been established, local
distributors and agents generally expect to be extended an offer to
visit the foreign company's plant facilities and head offices in order
to become more acquainted with the company's personal and operating
Although capitalizing and privatizing, Bolivia's economy remains heavily
public-sector oriented until those processes are completed sometime in
1996. Businesspeople should be prepared to deal with government
officials and their procedures. U.S. exporters or shippers should
adhere to the instructions of the Bolivian importer, as well as to the
instructions in the trade regulations section of this report regarding
shipment of goods in order to avoid difficulties and Customs fines.
Corruption exists in both government and business. U.S. companies
should exercise the utmost care and discretion in their business
TRAVEL ADVISORY AND VISAS
Visas: Any foreigner that wishes or needs to work in Bolivia must first
obtain a working memorandum from the Ministry of Labor. To do so, they
need to present a legal request and their passport with a valid visa.
The GOB has three different non-immigrant categories for the entry of
any foreigner into Bolivia. These are:
1. Tourist visa, free of charge and valid 30 days. This visa is valid
for business purposes and may be extended for another 30 days, upon the
payment of $30 in the offices of the Immigration Service.
2. Temporary residence visa, with the following requirements: valid
passport containing specific-purpose visa (for any purpose other than
tourism); legal petition addressed to the Director General of
Immigration and Foreign Affairs, requesting temporary residence; work
contract legalized by the Ministry of Labor, specifying the duration of
the contract; certificate from the institution for which the person is
going to work (or a certificate of studies, for students only); police
security clearance, issued by the Bolivian Police; legal address,
registered with the Bolivian Police; temporary residence request form,
change of visa request form, required even if it is their first visa;
for temporary residence of up to two years a fee of 100 Bs. must be
paid. (note: the Bolivian Government reserves the right to accept or
deny the temporary residence of foreigners in Bolivia).
3. Indefinite residence visa, with the following requirements: valid
passport containing two-year temporary residence visa; legal petition
addressed to the Director General of Immigration and Foreign Affairs
requesting indefinite residence; medical certificate issued by the
National Institute of Employment Health; Police security clearance
issued by Bolivian Police; legal address registered with Bolivian
Police; payment of $50 to the National Treasury; birth certificate
legalized by a Bolivian consulate; police security clearance, issued in
the country of origin and legalized by a Bolivian consulate; indefinite
visa request form, change of visa request form, work contract legalized
by the Ministry of Labor. (note: the GOB reserves the right to accept
or deny the indefinite residence of foreigners in Bolivia.)
B. The above categories cover principals, managers, trained and
specially qualified employees involved in the company's operations.
C. No special qualifications are required to secure entry. The
person/investor is not limited in the type of work he/she can perform.
There are no limits to the amount of money invested to qualify for
D. There are no specific restrictions for a person/investor entering
Bolivia. There is no requirement to train nationals. A businessperson
may remain as long as required. There is no need for a person/investor
to have been previously employed with a related company outside Bolivia.
There is no numerical limitation on the number of
businesspersons/investors from the U.S. that may enter Bolivia. The
spouse and children of the visa holder are entitled to enter the country
with the visa holder; however, their names must be included in the legal
petition to the Director General of Immigration and Foreign Affairs.
E. The qualifications or restrictions referenced above for U.S.
businesspersons/investors do not differ from those for individuals from
The head of immigration is Victoria Baldivieso, Directora Nacional de
Migracion y Extranjeria, Ministerio de Gobierno, La Paz, tel (591) (2)
359665 or 370475, fax 376701.
The following legal holidays are observed throughout the country:
New Year's Day January 1
Good Friday Varies
Labor Day May 1
Corpus Christi Varies
Independence Day August 6
All Saints Day November 1
Christmas Day December 25
LOCAL STATE HOLIDAYS
February 10 Oruro Day
April 15 Tarija Day
May 25 Sucre Day
July 16 La Paz Day
September 14 Cochabamba Day
September 24 Santa Cruz Day
September 24 Pando Day
November 10 Potosi Day
November 18 Beni Day
BUSINESS INFRASTRUCTURE (E.G. TRANSPORTATION, LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATIONS,
HOUSING, HEALTH, FOOD)
Transportation is hindered by a lack of developed infrastructure.
Bolivia has just over 50,000 kms of roads, of which just over 2,000 kms
are paved. There are paved roads from La Paz to Lake Titicaca,
Cochabamba, and Oruro. Most of the road between Cochabamba and Santa
Cruz is paved. No paved roads exist to neighboring countries. The
national railroad system has a total of 3,651 kms of track, divided into
two non-connecting segments. The western segment of 2,274 kms is the
longest and serves the Pacific ports of Arica and Antofagasta, Chile, as
well as the lake port of Guaqui and the major cities in the Altiplano
and valleys. It connects with the Argentinean rail system. The eastern
segment of 1,377 kms links Santa Cruz with Brazil and Argentina. Grain
export facilities on the Paraguay river near Brazil are being improved.
Airline connections to other Latin American countries and to Miami are
Utilities are adequate to good. Electric power is reliable in the major
cities. Residential current in La Paz in 110 and 220 volts, 50 cycles.
Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and most other cities operate on 220 volts, 50
cycles. Water shortages may occur in the dry season in La Paz. Water
may not be considered potable by American standards in any Bolivian
city, although the major cities have improved their water supply systems
in recent years.
Spanish is both the official language and the language of commerce in
Bolivia. Aymara and Quechua are also spoken extensively outside the
major cities, but Spanish is understood in all but the most remote
regions. English is widely spoken among businesspersons and public
officials, but most prefer to speak Spanish.
Office hours are the same throughout the year, but vary somewhat from
city to city. In La Paz and Cochabamba, hours are generally from 9 am
to 12 noon and 2 pm until 6:30 or 7 pm. In Santa Cruz, the tropical
climate demands that work begin and end earlier, beginning at 7 or 8 am
and ending about 4:30 pm, with a two-hour lunch break in the middle of
La Paz's altitude may cause headache or more serious health problems for
individuals with heart or lung ailments. It is a good idea to consult a
doctor before coming to La Paz. Recent arrivals are advised to limit
their activities while they acclimate. Sanitary conditions are such
that it is advisable to boil water at least 20 minutes or to consume
bottled water. There are, however, many good and safe restaurants in
the major cities. Hepatitis and rabies are endemic in Bolivia, although
with proper caution both can easily be avoided.
National and international telephone and cable services are available in
La Paz and other major cities. Direct dialing is available between the
cities of La Paz, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, Oruro, Tarija, Potosi and
Sucre. Many business establishments operate telex machines. Direct
dialing to the U.S. and most other countries is available.
Taxi fares from the El Alto airport to La Paz vary according to the
number of passengers, but generally the charge is 5 Bs per person for a
collective taxi. Individual taxi fares average 25-30 Bs. Within the
city, fares average about 1.80 Bs during the day and 2 Bs at night.
Rental cars are available, but this service is expensive and frequently
includes a driver who also must be paid. U.S. drivers licenses are
valid in Bolivia for 90 days after arrival.
The major cities of Bolivia offer a radiotaxi service with special
fares. Fares within downtown La Paz cost 5 Bs for one to five persons.
Fares from downtown to the peripheral areas are 10-20 Bs. This service
may be rented for a full day at a special cost.
All of Bolivia experiences a rainy season during the summer months (Dec-
Mar). The average daytime temperature is 60 degrees fahrenheit for most
of the year, but evenings are much cooler. Daytime weather is usually
pleasant. Santa Cruz is a tropical city, generally hot and humid, while
Cochabamba, in a mountainous valley, has a climate similar to that of La
Paz, except somewhat milder.
There are several good, comfortable hotels in the central part of La Paz
where single rooms range between $35 and $120 a night, including tax.
Several new hotels have recently been built, including the Radisson
Plaza, the Plaza, the Presidente, the Palladium and the Libertador.
There are also several good hotels in Santa Cruz (Tajibos, Yotau) and
Cochabamba (Portales, Grand).
-- CHAPTER X: APPENDICES -
A. COUNTRY DATA
POPULATION 1993 (A): 6.94 million
POPULATION GROWTH RATE (A): 2 percent
DISTRIBUTION: roughly 58 percent of the population lives in urban areas.
RELIGION: Catholicism is the dominant religion; freedom of religion
GOVERNMENT SYSTEM: Executive, legislative and judicial branches are
separate. President elected every five years, upper and lower houses of
Congress elected every five years; independent judiciary appointed by
executive branch, with Supreme Court judges appointed for 10 years.
LANGUAGES: Spanish (official), Aymara, Quechua, and other native
WORK WEEK: Monday through Friday, 9-12, 2-6:30; see "Business Customs"
above for more detailed information.
(A): National Institute of Statistics (INE)
--APPENDIX B: DOMESTIC ECONOMY-
1994 1995 1996
(billions of dollars)
GDP (E) 6.772 7.23 7.725
GDP GROWTH (percent) 4.1 4.0 4.5
GDP PER CAPITA (A): USD 975
GOVERNMENT SPENDING AS PERCENT OF GDP, 1994: 40 percent (G)
INFLATION 8.3 10.0 10.0
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE (D) (A): 7.4 7.2 7.0
FOREIGN EXCHANGE RESERVES 12/94 (E): GROSS: 659 MILLION; NET: 502
AVERAGE EXCHANGE RATE: AS OF 6/95, 4.79 Bolivianos per dollar,
depreciation for 1995 estimated to be around 7 percent
FOREIGN DEBT: USD 4.2 Billion (E)
DEBT SERVICE RATIO (E): .28 (USD 276 million principal and interest, USD
985 million exports)
U.S. ECONOMIC/MILITARY ASSISTANCE (F): USAID: 89 million;
counternarcotics: 23.3 million; military: 22.4 million; Peace Corps: 1.8
(A) Embassy estimate
(B) GOB estimate
(C) INE - National Institute of Statistics
(D) Based on surveys of urban areas. Data does not consider
(E) Central Bank of Bolivia
(F) FY 1995, U.S. Embassy La Paz, estimate
(G) All government spending as percent of GDP, 1994
--APPENDIX C: TRADE -
1994 TOTAL EXPORTS (A): 985 million
1994 TOTAL IMPORTS (A): 1209 million
1994 U.S. MERCHANDISE EXPORTS TO BOLIVIA (B): 186 million
1994 U.S. MERCHANDISE IMPORTS FROM BOLIVIA (B): 260 million
1994 U.S. SHARE OF BOLIVIA'S IMPORTS: 15 percent
BOLIVIAN MERCHANDISE TRADE BALANCE WITH U.S., 1994 (B): plus 74 million
PROJECTED AVERAGE ANNUAL GROWTH RATE FROM WORLD THROUGH 1996 (C): n/a;
imports grew by 12 percent in 1993 and were flat in 1994
U.S. IMPORTS PROJECTED ANNUAL GROWTH RATE THROUGH 1996 (B): n/a; U.S.
exports to Bolivia declined by 14 percent in 1994 and by 3 percent in
IMPORTS OF AGRICULTURAL GOODS
TOTAL 1994 WORLD IMPORTS: 145 million
AGRICULTURAL IMPORTS FROM THE U.S. IN 1994 (B): 25 million
AGRICULTURAL GOODS TRADE BALANCE: 7.5 million deficit for Bolivia
(Embassy estimate using Central Bank aggregate figures)
TRADE BALANCE WITH THREE LEADING PARTNERS 1994 (A) (millions of U.S.
PRINCIPAL U.S. EXPORTS TO BOLIVIA IN MILLIONS OF USD (B):
1001 WHEAT AND MESLIN 14.0
1101 WHEAT AND MESLIN FLOUR 8.7
8431 MACHINERY AND PARTS 8.4
2837 CYANIDES, ETC. 7.8
8471 COMPUTERS 6.8
PRINCIPAL U.S. IMPORTS FROM BOLIVIA (B):
7113 GOLD JEWELRY 105
8001 TIN 52
4407 WOOD 29
1701 SUGAR 11
2607 LEAD ORE 9.3
(A) Central Bank of Bolivia
(B) U.S. Dept. of Commerce
--APPENDIX D: INVESTMENT STATISTICS -
Investment statistics are not available. The government dropped the
requirement for registration in 1985.
--APPENDIX E: U.S. AND COUNTRY CONTACTS-
COUNTRY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
(Please contact the Economic/Commercial section of the U.S. Embassy in
La Paz for a complete list; all phone/fax numbers use country and city
code (591) (2) unless noted; all addresses are in La Paz unless noted;
Casilla means P.O. Box)
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN RELATIONS AND WORSHIP:
Lic. Antonio Aranibar Quiroga, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship,
Plaza Murillo, esq. Ingavi, tel 371150, 371151, fax 371155.
Dr. Mario Reyes Chavez, National Secretary for International Economic
Relations, same address, tel 369824, fax 371155
MINISTRY OF GOVERNMENT:
Lic. Carlos Sanchez Berzain, Minister of Government, Av. Arce esq B.
Salinas, tel 370460, 371355, fax 371334
MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE:
Lic. Raul Tovar P., Minister of Defense, Plaza Abaroa, tel 359461,
371365, fax 353156
MINISTRY OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:
Dr. Jaime Villalobos, Minister of Economic Development, Palacio de
Communicaciones, Piso 20, tel 356741, fax 375000
Dr. Mauricio Gonzalez Sfeir, National Secretary of Energy, Palacio de
Communicaciones, Piso 12, tel 374054, fax 392758
Dr. Teddy Cuentas, National Secretary of Mines, Av. 16 de Julio, tel
374124, fax 359998
Lic. Freddy Teodovich, National Secretary of Transportation,
Communication and Civil Aviation, Palacio de Communicaciones, Piso 5,
tel 377222, fax 371395
Lic. Douglas Ascarrunz, National Secretary of Industry and Commerce, Av.
Camacho esq Bueno, tel. 372041, 372042, fax 358831
Ing. Edgar Talavera Solis, National Secretary for Agriculture, Av.
Camacho 1471, tel 361348, fax 357535
Director General of Customs, Ing. Javier Calderon, calle Potosi 940, tel
371321 or 371378, fax 392505
MINISTRY OF CAPITALIZATION:
Lic. Alfonso Revollo, Minister of Capitalization, Palacio de
Communicaciones, Piso 17, tel 377222, fax 377451
Lic. Edgar Saravia, National Secretary of Capitalization, Piso 20, tel
356738, fax 08112823
MINISTRY OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Lic. Alberto Bailey Gutierrez, National Secretary of Culture (copyright
issues), tel 378128, fax 378128
MINISTRY OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENT:
Ing. Luis Lema Molina, Minister of Sustainable Development and the
Environment, Av. Arce 2147, tel 367449, fax 392892
Other important contacts:
Empresa Nacional de Television Boliviana (National Bolivian Television
Company), General Manager Lic. Miguel Montero Vaca, Casilla 900, tel
376356, fax 359753
Administracion de Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares a la Navegacion
Aerea (AASANA, the Airport and Auxiliary Services Administration),
Executive Director Ing. Alvaro Echenique, Casilla 4382, tel 351341, fax
Banco Central de Bolivia (Central Bank of Bolivia), President Lic.
Fernando Candia, Casilla 3118, tel 374151, fax 392398
COUNTRY TRADE ASSOCIATIONS/CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE
Confederacion de Empresarios Privados de Bolivia (Bolivian Private
Entrepreneurs Confederation), President Carlos de Chazal, Casilla 130,
tel 356831, fax 379970
Camara Americana de Comercio de Bolivia (American Chamber of Commerce of
Bolivia), General Manager Ana Maria Galindo de Paz, Casilla 8268, tel
342523, fax 371503
Camara Nacional de Comercio (National Chamber of Commerce), Executive
Director Fernando Caceres, Casilla 7, tel 378600, fax 391004
Camara Nacional de Industrias (National Chamber of Industries), General
Manager Dr. Alfredo Arana Ruck, Casilla 611, tel 374476, fax 350620
Camara Boliviana de la Construccion (Bolivian Chamber of Construction
Companies), President Oscar Cobarrubias, Casilla 3215, tel 370981, fax
Camara Nacional de Mineria (National Chamber of Small Mining), Casilla
2022, tel 325140, fax 379653
Asociacion Nacional de Mineros Medianos (National Association of Medium
Miners, President Raul Espana-Smith, Casilla 6190, tel 352223, fax
Camara Agropecuaria del Oriente (CAO) (Eastern Agricultural Chamber),
General Manager Walter Nunez, Casilla 116, tel (591) (33) 44966 or
51391, fax 22621
Asociacion de Bancos Privados de Bolivia (Bolivian Private Bankers
Association, ASOBAN), Executive Secretary Carlos Iturralde B., Casilla
5822, tel 321379, fax 391093
Asociacion Nacional de Industriales Textiles (National Association of
Textile Industries), President Carlos Morales, Casilla 3836, tel 343467,
COUNTRY MARKET RESEARCH FIRMS:
All market research and consulting companies are required to register
with the National Association of Consulting Companies (ANEC), Casilla
8560, President Oscar Aguilar Orellana, tel 324532, fax 354351
The Society of Engineering Consultants may be contacted at Casilla 6113
COUNTRY COMMERCIAL BANKS
MAJOR COMMERCIAL BANKS IN BOLIVIA
Banco Boliviano Americano (purchased by Interbanco 6/95), Loayza esq Av.
Camacho, Casilla 478, tel 350860, fax 353984
Banco de Santa Cruz de la Sierra, 277 Junin 154, Santa Cruz, Bolivia,
tel 591 3 369911, fax 350114
Banco Mercantil, Calle Ayacucho esq. Mercado, tel 356902, fax 391442
Banco Nacional de Bolivia, Av. Camacho esq Colon, Casilla 360, tel
354616, fax 371279
Banco Real, Av. 16 de Julio 1642, tel 366603, fax 391413
BHN MULTIBANCO, Casilla 4824, tel 320789, fax 391358
Banco Ganadero, 24 de Septiembre 110, Santa Cruz, tel 591 3 391616, fax
Banco Industrial, Av. 16 de Julio 1628, tel 323343, fax 392013
Banco de la Nacion Argentina, Av. 16 de Julio 1486, tel 359211, fax
Banco de La Paz, Av. 16 de Julio 1473, Casilla 6014, tel 390950, fax
Banco de Credito, Calle Colon esq. Mercado, tel 391722, fax 391044
Citibank, Plaza Venezuela 1434, tel 369955, fax 08112894
Banco Economico, Av. Camacho 1245, tel 354341, fax 08112745
Banco Internacional de Desarrollo (BIDESA), Calle Potosi 1285, tel
360820, fax 361130
Banco de la Union, Av. Camacho 1416, tel 360431, fax 325880
Interbanco (bought out Banco Boliviano Americano 6/95), Casilla 14758,
Calle Mercado 1046, tel 317707, fax 316787
MULTILATERAL DEVELOPMENT BANKS
World Bank, representative Isabelle Giradot Berg, BISA Building, on the
Prado, 9th floor, tel (591)(2) 356844, fax 391038, La Paz
InterAmerican Development Bank, representative David Atkinson, BISA
Building, on the Prado, 5th floor, tel (591) (2) 351221, fax 391089, La
Corporacion Andina de Fomento (CAF), the Andean Development Corporation,
representative Dr. Hernan Escudero, calle Esmeralda no. 4, tel (591) (2)
357735 or 363934, fax 391032, La Paz
U.S. EMBASSY TRADE PERSONNEL
INCUMBENT/GRADE/ PERCENTAGE TIME
Curtis B. Kamman, Ambassador 15
Robert Perry, Deputy Chief of Mission 10
Paul Larsen, Economic Counselor/Commercial Attache 60
Dirk Hofschire, Economic and Commercial Officer 50
Fernando Urquidi, FSN-Senior Economic Specialist 15
Jaime Bilbao, FSN-Senior Commercial Specialist 100
Luisa San Martin, FSN-Commercial Secretary 90
WASHINGTON-BASED USG COUNTRY CONTACTS
Bolivian Government Representation in the United States
Embassy of Bolivia, 3014 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel
202 483-4410, fax 328-3712
25 SE Second Ave. Suite 545, Miami, FL 33131 tel 305 358 3450/3451, fax
211 East 43rd St, Room 802, New York, NY 10020, tel 212 687-0531/0530,
870 Market St, Room 255, San Francisco, CA 94102, tel 415 495-5173, fax
Luis Zambrana, 7710 Carondelete Ave, St. Louis, MO 63105, tel 314 725-
9966, fax 725-9103
Ricardo Antezana, 13933 SE 60th St, Bellevue, WA 98006, tel 206 244-
6696, fax 243-3795
David C. Mitchell, 1801 Gilbert Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45262, tel 513 271-
5381, fax 271-8189
Jaime R. Escobar, 1200 W. Superior St, Suite 101, Melrose Park, IL
60160, tel 312 343-1234
Peter Mariaca, Calle Munet Court, No. 10, Camara, Puerto Rico, tel 809
740-8444, fax 798-7525
Jorge Gelatoire C., 11107 River View, Houston, TX 77077, tel 713 789-
4362, fax 789-8124
The Bolivian Chamber of Commerce is located at One World Trade Center,
Suite 5215, New York, NY 10048, Manager Jorge Palacios, tel 212 839-7086
Below is a list of selected current reports on commercial and economic
conditions in Bolivia available from various sources.
U.S. Department of Commerce Publications: some of these reports were
prepared within the Office of Latin America (OLA), while others were
submitted by the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service and the
Economic/Commercial section of U.S. Embassy La Paz.
These reports and those of the Department of State are generally
available through the U.S. Government Printing Office, tel 202 783-3238,
unless otherwise indicated. The reports are also available on the
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB), tel 202 377-1986, which may be accessed
at most local or university libraries. In addition, there are a number
of valuable reference works and periodicals, the most important of which
are listed below. The best way to obtain guidance on using these
information resources is to contact the Bolivian desk officer, Room
3025, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Washington, D.C. 20230, tel 202 377-1659.
U.S. Exports/World Areas by Schedule E Commodity Grouping Report, FT
Industrial Outlook Report: Minerals, annual
Industrial Outlook Report: Petroleum, annual
Financing Guide (available free of charge from the Latin
America/Caribbean Business Development Center, U.S. Dept. of Commerce,
tel 202 377-0703, 377-0841), and the Guidebook to the Andean Trade
Preference Act (also available free of charge from the same source)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE PUBLICATIONS
Background Notes: Bolivia, available periodically from the Dept. of
State, Office of Public Communications, Bureau of Public Affairs,
Washington, D.C., 20520. Background Notes provides political and other
background information on Bolivia (annual subscriptions to the
Background Notes series may be purchased by contacting the
Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington,
Area Handbook for Bolivia, periodic
The Commercial section of the U.S. Embassy in La Paz (tel 591 2 430251,
fax 433710) can provide a list of publications related to Bolivia,
including those published in Bolivia.
--APPENDIX F: MARKET RESEARCH -
List available and upcoming DOC/ISAS and IMIS
Computers and Peripherals Sector, April 1995
Medical equipment -Industry Sub-sector analysis
--APPENDIX G: TRADE EVENT SCHEDULE-
1) Santa Cruz International Trade Fair, September 14-27, 1995, Event
type: TFO, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Industries: GIE (U.S. pavilion to be
managed by the AMCHAM Bolivia (La Paz office), with U.S. Embassy
2) Infrastructure USA, November 16,17, 1995, RC, ID 96000439,
Industry:GIE, La Paz (catalog show)
3) New Products USA, February 8,9, 1996, RC, ID 96000437, Industry: GIE,
La Paz (catalog show)
4) Multi-State Trade Days, September 19-20, 1996, MSTD, ID 96000000,
Industry: GIE, La Paz (catalog show)
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