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FDI in Figures

According to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2021, disinvestment in Bolivia accelerated from -217 million dollars in 2019 to more than -1 billion dollars in 2020, due not only to the Covid-19 pandemic but also to political uncertainty in an election year, as well as commodity prices, especially for hydrocarbons, metals and potash. The stock of FDI is estimated at USD 10.5 billion in 2020. The country's many natural resources offer investment opportunities (hydrocarbons, mining sector), as do the transport and communications sectors. Bolivia’s wealth of natural resources attracts significant investment, particularly  from both Russia and China (the country has the continent's second largest gas reserve and the world's largest lithium reserve). Lately, the majority of significant foreign projects in Bolivia have come from China. In February 2019, the Bolivian Government announced that a Chinese consortium would be its strategic partner on new $2.3 billion lithium project, giving China a potential foothold in the country’s huge untapped reserves of the metal. The Chinese TBEA Group Co Ltd along with Bolivia’s state lithium company YLB, will seek to produce lithium and other materials from the Coipasa and Pastos Grandes salt flats in the coming years.

Bolivia ranked 150th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s last Doing Business report, published in 2020, gaining six positions compared to the previous year. However, even though the Bolivian government states that it would like to attract more FDI, it has done little to do so. One of the most significant policies established in order to attract investment was the enactment of an investment law in 2014, which says that each Ministry will provide incentives for sector-specific investment, stipulates that the government can encourage investment in certain sectors that contribute to the economic and social development of the country, and specifically aims to promote investments in the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons. Additionally, the government declared that it is working to create an investment promotion agency. Still, even without significant policies to attract FDI, Bolivia’s macroeconomic stability, abundant natural resources, and strategic location in the heart of South America make it an attractive country for investors. However, a key reason for the low level of foreign investment is the current government’s restrictions and discrimination against foreign investors, which have harmed the country’s attractiveness, such as the nationalisation of a Spanish electricity company, the threat to expel Coca-Cola in 2012 and the expropriation of SABSA in 2013. The instability of the legal framework, corruption, the weakness of the rule of law and the prohibition to resort to international arbitration are elements which continue to affect the business environment. But, since many investors see Bolivia as a difficult country to invest in and chose to spend their money elsewhere, competition is significantly reduced, making it easier for those who chose to invest there to make a success of their venture.

 

Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors

  Bolivia Latin America & Caribbean United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 1.0 4.1 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 5.0 5.2 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 6.0 6.7 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 201820192020
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 302-217-1,048
FDI Stock (million USD) 11,835.211,713.310,483.5
Number of Greenfield Investments* 15.012.05.0
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 1,3742,905308

Source: UNCTAD - Latest available data

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 

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Tax Rates

Value added tax (VAT) - Impuesto al valor agregado (IVA)
13% (standard rate - however, the effective rate is 14.94% as VAT must be included in the sales price).
Exports are zero-rated.
Exempt items include: goods imported by members of diplomatic corps recognized in Bolivia; “Bona fide” introduced merchandise, up to a limit of USD1,000; life insurance quotas (monthly payments with respect to a life insurance contract); for securities registered on the Bolivian Stock Exchange, capital gains generated by sales, results derived from the valuation processes determined by the Financial Supervisory Authority of Bolivia (Autoridad de Supervisión del Sistema Financiero, or ASFI) and results generated in the application of generally accepted accounting principles; transfers of goods or assets subject to the securitization process (titularización) administered by the securitization association, at the beginning and end of the process (under this process, the goods must be transferred to an independent fund [patrimonio autonomo] and, when the process is completed, the goods are returned to the original owner); operations regarding sales or transfers of portfolios (financial intermediation, insurance and pension); interest from loans received by financial entities; inbound tourism and lodging services for foreign tourists without a residence or address in Bolivia; artistic events focused on production, presentation and promotion of theater, dancing, national folklore, painting, sculpture and movies of Bolivian artists, if they are sponsored or developed in locations in Bolivia that are managed or owned by a municipal government or the Bolivian government; sale of books printed in Bolivia or those imported by or published by Bolivian institutions.
Company Tax
25%
Withholding Taxes
Dividends: 0 (resident)/12.5% (non-resident), Interest: 0 (resident)/12.5% (non-resident), Royalties: 0 (resident)/12.5% (non-resident).
Bilateral Agreement
Bolivia and Argentina signed a Double Taxation Treaty (in Spanish).
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employers
14.71% of gross salary (16.71% for the mining sector). The employer also must contribute 2% to the National Housing Fund.
Other Domestic Resources
Bolivian Taxation Authority
Overview of Bolivia's tax measures in response to Covid-19
Consult Doing Business Website, to obtain a summary of the taxes and mandatory contributions.
 
 

Individual Taxes

Personal income tax
13% (12.5% effective tax rate for individuals engaged in a profession or business activity)
 
 

Country Comparison For Corporate Taxation

  Bolivia Latin America & Caribbean United States Germany
Number of Payments of Taxes per Year 42.0 28.2 10.6 9.0
Time Taken For Administrative Formalities (Hours) 1,025.0 327.5 175.0 218.0
Total Share of Taxes (% of Profit) 83.7 46.8 36.6 48.8

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

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Investment Opportunities

Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Inter-American Development Bank, Tenders in South America
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide
Setting Up a Company
Consult Doing Business Website, to know about procedures to start a Business in Bolivia.
Useful Resources
Export Development and Investment Promotion in Bolivia
Contact the Cámara de comercio de España en La Paz.
Contact the Spanish Embassy.
Contact the Embassy in Spain.
 

Business Setup Procedures

Setting Up a Company Bolivia Latin America & Caribbean
Procedures (number) 12.00 8.00
Time (days) 39.50 25.22

Source: Doing Business.

 
 
 

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Latest Update: April 2022

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