Bolivia Achieves Record Levels of Economic and Social Growth in 2021

Bolivian president Luis Arce during his visit to Humatoma school in the capital La Paz on December 22. Photo: Luis Arce/Twitter

Under the rule of President Luis Arce and vice president David Choquehuanca of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, Bolivia recovered from the economic losses suffered during the coup regime of Jeanine Áñez

After suffering deep economic setbacks during the de-facto rule of coup-installed president Jeanine Áñez, Bolivia’s economy not only recovered but achieved new levels of economic and social growth in 2021. Under the rule of President Luis Arce and vice president David Choquehuanca of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, the country’s exports grew at record levels, the unemployment rate fell sharply, the lithium revenue generated historic income, and the economy is estimated to grow by over 5% in 2022.

President Arce, on January 2, reported that the country’s exports until November 2021 exceeded 9.9 billion USD, the highest figure in the last three years. “With hope, work and, above all, with unity, that’s how we started 2022. As of November 2021, our exports exceeded 9.9 billion USD, the highest in three years, with a trade surplus of 1.7 billion USD. It’s just the beginning! We are moving forward,” tweeted the head of state.

At the same time, the vice minister of foreign trade and integration, Benjamín Blanco, reported that the country is set to beat another record, with 10 billion USD until December, a figure that has not been reached since 2014. “Exports are going to reach around 10 billion USD. It is a figure that has not been reached since 2014, we are going to break a record after many years in exports and that also leaves us with a positive trade balance of more than 1.5 billion USD, after eight years we did not have a credit balance for our country,” he said.

Blanco also reported that not only was there a growth in the value of exports, but also their volume increased. He highlighted that the country obtained international recognition for the quality of cocoa, which will allow it to be exported at better prices. He also said that the country intends to reach the European market with Bolivian wine in 2022.

Meanwhile, on January 4, the minister of economy and public finance, Marcelo Montenegro reported that between May 2020 and October 2021, more than 1.1 million Bolivians got jobs, and unemployment decreased from 11.6% to 5%. “The economy has recovered, the growth rate of six percent is not negligible, with falling unemployment, inflation and deficits controlled, the positive trade balance and exports are growing,” said Montenegro.

He said that in 2022, the government will continue working to generate jobs for Bolivians in various sectors. “The prospects for 2022 management have a tendency to continue improving in employment and income, as well as greater dynamics in construction, transportation, manufacturing, mining and other sectors,” he said.

On January 5, the ministry of hydrocarbons and energies reported that the Bolivian Lithium Mineral company (YLB) generated a historic income of around 28 million USD from sales in 2021. It said that it is the result of the sales of potassium chloride and lithium carbonate in the national and international markets.

The main countries that demand Bolivian lithium carbonate are China, Russia and the United States, while those that require potassium chloride are Chile and Brazil, according to data from YLB. Apart from exports, both products are also marketed to small producers in the national market through the company’s outlets in Uyuni and Cochabamba cities.

Based on the positive indexes registered in 2021, such as the 6% increase in the country’s GDP as compared to a -8.8% in 2020, Bolivian economic analysts have forecasted an economic growth of 5.1% for 2022.

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