LA PAZ – The value of Bolivia’s exports in 2015 fell by 31.6 percent to leave the Andean nation with its first trade deficit after 12 straight years of surpluses, the National Statistics Institute reported Wednesday.
Bolivia ran a trade surplus of $2.46 billion in 2014, on exports of $13.03 billion and imports of $10.56 billion.
Last year, exports declined in value to $8.9 billion, while imports slipped to $9.68 billion, resulting in a deficit of $773.8 million.
Bolivia’s first negative trade balance since 2003 can be explained mostly by a sharp decline in the value of its hydrocarbon exports amid plummeting global prices for crude oil.
Foreign sales of hydrocarbons, which accounted for 44.6 percent of all exports, dropped 39.8 percent from $6.59 billion in 2014 to $3.97 billion last year.
Bolivia does not export oil, but its economy is heavily dependent on sales of natural gas to Brazil and Argentina at prices that are adjusted quarterly according to swings in the price of crude.
Mining products, representing 19.5 percent of exports, retreated 14.7 percent last year and farm exports were down 24 percent.
Exports to the United States – 11.9 percent of the total – plunged 47.4 percent from $2.01 billion in 2014 to $1.05 billion in 2015.