Turkey's relations with the Latin American countries have gained momentum in recent years and the momentum has manifested with rising trade volume, and Boliva is no exception to this. The bilateral trade volume between Turkey and Bolivia increased by 19 percent in 2018 and reached $113 million.
Bolivian President Evo Morales' visit to Turkey today, the first presidential visit from the Latin American country, has once more highlighted the bilateral economic relations.
The rise in bilateral relations was facilitated by Turkey's Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) initiative. The opening of a Turkish Embassy in the capital city of La Paz also accelerated the improvement of Turkish-Bolivian rapport.
Turkey's exports to Bolivia were recorded at $21 million while imports stood at $92 million, according to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
Turkish exports mainly included cookies and waffles worth around $2.4 million, fiber-optic cables and electrical conductors generating $2 million. The exports of fridges and deep-freezers contributed $1.3 million to Turkish exports to Bolivia last year.
Jewelry equipment and components made up $89.6 million of total imports from Bolivia.
The Economic and Commercial Cooperation Agreement between Turkey and Bolivia was signed in 2011 and took effect in 2013. Moreover, a visa exemption agreement has also been in effect since 2001. These agreements have enabled bilateral economic and political relations to significantly grow in recent years.
In line with the goal of developing economic and trade relations with LAC countries, Turkey signed Economic and Trade Cooperation Agreements with 19 countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The first free trade agreement (FTA) in the region was signed with Chile in 2009 and entered into force on March 1, 2011. Negotiations for an FTA with Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico and Peru are underway. In addition to the LAC countries, Turkey aims to conclude FTAs with important regional organizations such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the Pacific Alliance.
The geographical distance that impedes Turkish and Bolivian businesspeople from traveling frequently, along with high freight rates, are logistical disadvantages to increase competition with other regional countries.
Rich in natural resources, Bolivia has stannum, zinc, silver and gold reserves in addition to natural gas and oil. The country contains more than 60 percent of the global lithium reserves, a strategic mineral used in the electric batteries. Its natural gas exports account for more than 50 percent of the total exports. Additionally, gas agreements with Brazil and Argentina have also led to a surge in natural gas production and exports, having boosted the economic development of the country. Registering a 4.2 percent growth in 2017, the Latin American country grew by 4.3 percent last year.
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