European Union External Action

Bolivia and the EU

11/05/2016 - 14:59
EU relations with Country

Bolivia and the EU have been developing their political and economic relations in an atmosphere of extensive political dialogue and cooperation since 1995.

Relations between Bolivia and the EU have been strengthened in recent times and have moved further forward thanks to the cooperation programme dealing with topics such as human rights, freedom of expression, conflict prevention, migration, shared responsibility in the fight against drugs trafficking, terrorism and, particularly, regional integration processes.

Relations with Bolivia are also maintained in high-level meetings, something that is reflected in the political decision to move forward together towards mutually favourable goals.

Economic relations between Bolivia and the EU have grown in the last few years. Europe is the most important investor in Bolivia, and the presence of the EU delegation aims to create conditions that allow the country to reap the benefits of a smooth flow of trade with Europe.

In this connection, the EU and Bolivia maintain regular contact in order to improve institutional and legal frameworks that favour commerce and foreign investment.

Commercial relations between the EU and Bolivia are regulated under the Sistema de Preferencias Generalizadas Plus (General System of Preferences Plus, SPG+), which enables Bolivia to access the European market at low tariffs.

As a result, the commercial exchange between Bolivia and the EU reached €1 383 million in 2015, an increase of 6.3 % on the previous year.

Furthermore, this system provides Bolivia with the opportunity to diversify its exports, which are mainly based on primary materials, towards other products with a greater added value.

Indeed, exports from Bolivia to the EU under the SPG+ increased by 45 % between 2014 and 2013 and by 77 % between 2013 and 2012, which shows that Bolivia is using the potential that the system SPG+ offers.

These are some figures from the commercial exchange in 2015:

  • Bolivia exported goods with a total value of €645 million to the EU, up 16.9 % from the previous year.
  • Import of goods from Bolivia to the EU totalled €738 million in 2015.
  • Since 2011, exports from Bolivia to the EU have grown at an average of 16.1 % annually.
  • 75.7 % of exports from Bolivia to the EU have been primary products. Of these, 29.3 % are foods and 46.5 % are fuel and mining products;
  • From the EU, Bolivia mainly imports machinery and transport equipment (69.7 %);
  • The EU is Bolivia's fifth largest trading partner.

Bolivia is the main recipient of bilateral aid from the EU for development in Latin America, with a budget of €281 million for the period 2014-2020.

The multi-annual indicative programme for this period was established on the basis of the programme Bolivia 2025, which establishes the vision of long-term development of the country, together with the member states of the EU and of other donors, establishing three priorities:

  • Judicial reform, which aims to strengthen Bolivian initiatives to ensure a justice system that is independent, transparent, appropriate and free from coercion, integrating the ordinary and indigenous justice systems. EU intervention will primarily focus on supporting a concerted strategy between all Bolivian institutions in order to reform the justice system in a way that serves the population.
  • The fight against drugs trafficking, oriented according to three pillars: a) supporting the eradication of the production and the trafficking of drugs, and enforcing the law; b) creating programs to reduce demand, including the prevention of the abuse of drugs, the rehabilitation of drug addicts and the reintegration of petty criminals into the labour force; and c) consolidating the alternative support programmes that help to reduce the extent of coca cultivations, providing new economic opportunities for the families who cultivate coca; and
  • The integrated management of water, based on: a) improving access to water and to sanitation services; b) guaranteeing the availability of safe water, taking into account climate change, deforestation and soil erosion; and c) managing nature protection areas.

The cooperation of the EU developed out of the coordinated European response established for Bolivia and within a wider context of the EU's external policies, particularly the Agenda for Change and the EU Strategic Framework for Human Rights and Democracy.

Together with the programme of bilateral cooperation, the EU maintains a continuing dialogue with the organisations of Bolivian civil society, which support it and are deemed to be key partners in the politics of development in democracy.

Non-state actors and local authorities actively contribute to the definition of cooperation and participation principles, thereby reinforcing their role in citizen participation and creating a leading channel to bring official help to those who need it most and who are most marginalised.

Each year, in direct alignment with national policies, the European Commission provides financial support to projects carried out by non-governmental organisations in different activity sectors and geographic areas of the national territory.

The EU is one of the largest providers of humanitarian aid in Bolivia, through the agency Ayuda Humanitaria y Protección Civil (Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection DG, ECHO). Two types of projects are currently taking place:

  • Rapid response to the needs generated by emergencies and disasters. 
  • Improving risk preparedness and prevention capabilities and resilience towards recurring natural events.

Bolivia is currently the beneficiary of three projects:

  1. One project of FAO (€2 176 472) and another of World Vision Germany (€1 437 500) that aim to increase resilience in the Mamoré and Beni river basins with implementation in 17 municipalities.
  2. A DIPECHO project on a national scale to strengthen actions that prepare for emergencies, including local and national support. This initiative has a budget of €1 297 073.
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