Last updated in November 2018
Bilateral relations are good. Since Bolivian President Evo Morales visited Berlin and Hamburg in November 2015 with a large ministerial delegation, the two countries have maintained a relatively frequent exchange of visits. The two countries held consultations on foreign policy issues in La Paz in late March 2017. In July 2017, Bolivia’s Deputy Minister of High Energy Technologies, Luís Alberto Echazú Alvarado, visited several cities in Germany. The Bolivian Environment and Water Minister, Carlos Ortuño Yañez, attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn in early December 2017. In 2018, high-level representatives of the Bolivian Government travelled to Germany on several occasions for talks focussing on economic issues. In early October, Tiefensee, the Economics Minister of Thuringia, visited Bolivia taking a business delegation with him.
The 1997 investment protection agreement between the two countries was unilaterally terminated by Bolivia in May 2013. For existing investments, however, protection will stay in effect for another 20 years. There are, nevertheless, interesting investment opportunities for German companies in Bolivia, especially in the following sectors: infrastructure (roads and railways, especially as part of the planned Bi-Oceanic railway project), energy (conventional and renewable energy sources), health care and lithium extraction, including battery production and chemical industries. President Morales is interested in high-quality technology, technology transfer and in importing the German vocational training system. He sees Germany as an important partner in the country’s modernisation.
Bilateral trade between Germany and Bolivia in 2017 was worth approximately 326 million euros, with Bolivian exports to Germany totalling 160 million euros and Bolivian imports from Germany 166 million euros. Bolivia’s main exports to Germany are mineral resources (lead, tin and silver ores) and agricultural produce (nuts, coffee, soya products, quinoa and millet) as well as leather and textile goods. Its main imports from Germany are machinery, household appliances, motor vehicles and vehicle parts, chemical and pharmaceutical products, electrical goods and measurement and control technology. Bolivian exports to Germany grew once again in 2017, as did German exports to Bolivia. However, Germany still reported a slight trade surplus with Bolivia. The German-Bolivian Chamber of Industry and Commerce is the largest bilateral chamber of commerce in the country. It celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2015.
Aggregate German development cooperation with Bolivia since the early 1960s amounts to more than one billion euros. At the most recent intergovernmental negotiations in May 2017, new commitments totalling approximately 48 million euros were made for a two-year period. The next commitments will be made in the intergovernmental negotiations held in 2019.
Development cooperation with Bolivia focuses on three priority areas: drinking water supply and sanitation, sustainable rural development and the environment, as well as energy, with a focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Decentralisation, environmental and climate protection, the mainstreaming of gender and indigenous issues and vocational training are important cross-cutting issues. Helping Bolivia implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the leitmotif of bilateral development cooperation.
German development cooperation is geared towards supporting medium and long-term structural reform under Bolivia’s medium and long-term development goals (Plan de Desarrollo Económico y Social 2016‑2020 and Agenda 2025). Partner orientation and promoting the establishment of democratic structures and the rule of law are key elements of German development cooperation. Germany assists in particular the Bolivian Government’s efforts to reduce poverty, to strengthen political, economic and social participation and to increase resilience to the consequences of climate change, to which Bolivia is highly susceptible.
Above and beyond these three areas, German development cooperation has at its disposal a wide range of instruments for cooperation that involves non-governmental actors, the private sector and municipalities. In addition, the German Embassy has funding available to support microprojects and small-scale climate protection and human rights Projects.
German development cooperation is a part of the joint strategy of the European Union and EU member states that are active in Bolivia, including Switzerland (European Joint Strategy 2017‑2020), which aims to further optimise the efficiency and coherence as well as the policy effectiveness of European development cooperation.
Germany is moreover a member of the GruS (Grupo de Socios para el Desarrollo de Bolivia), a donor coordination group. GruS has 23 members and is a platform for bilateral, inter-state and multilateral cooperation.
Culture and education
Cultural relations between Germany and Bolivia date back to the first major wave of German merchants and craftspeople that immigrated to Bolivia in the mid-19th century. The German Cultural Centre (Centro Cultural Alemán) is more than a century old (set up in 1914), the German schools in La Paz and Santa Cruz are 95 and 82 years old respectively. In 2014, the Goethe-Institut celebrated the 60th anniversary of its work in Bolivia and the PASCH school Ave Maria in La Paz the 50th anniversary of its founding. The German-Bolivian Chamber of Industry and Commerce was set up in 1955. There exists a very active town twinning arrangement between the Bolivian capital La Paz and the federal city of Bonn.
Germany’s cultural relations with Bolivia are fostered by the Goethe-Institut in La Paz and the German-Bolivian cultural societies in Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Sucre. There are a total of seven PASCH schools in Bolivia, including German Schools in La Paz and Santa Cruz, three schools offering the German language certificate (DSD) and two schools offering the “Fit in German” certificate in La Paz, Oruro, Sucre and Cochabamba. The dual system of training to become an export/import merchant or industrial sales management assistant, which is jointly offered by the German School in La Paz and the German-Bolivian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, has been in place for the past 25 years. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) support cooperation at university level. Numerous partnerships exist between German and Bolivian universities. There has been a DAAD lector in La Paz since 2013.
Under its Cultural Preservation Programme, Germany provides substantial financial support for the preservation and restoration of Bolivia’s cultural and historical heritage. In recent years, the restoration of frescoes at the Santa Clara Convent in Sucre and the renovation of the church at Yunguyo were funded under this programme. Projects to preserve the Guaraní culture and an archaeological site near Peñas were also supported. In 2016, Federal Foreign Office funding enabled the digitisation of historical photographs from Bolivia taken from the archives of the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography in Leipzig. In 2020, it is planned to mount a joint exhibition of the photographs in cooperation with Bolivia’s National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore.
In addition, the German Embassy in La Paz and the Goethe-Institut support a host of cultural events in Bolivia, ranging from music, dance and theatre to art exhibitions and film screenings, and provide financial and organisational assistance for the major festivals that are held in Bolivia at regular intervals. In 2017, Germany was the Guest Country of Honour at the International Book Fair of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its contents.
The Plurinational State of Bolivia is a partner country of German development cooperation. For more information, please visit the website of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development