Alberto Bonadona analyzes our industry, from El Deber:
The national industry
It is no secret that the domestic industry is emerging and, apart from what it may mean the oil sector, is highly concentrated in food products. This places, comparatively with countries undergoing industrialization, in a rudimentary stage.
The first [place] of national industries, its contribution to GDP, is the production of beverages (from soft drinks to beer and some alcohols), followed by the development of meat and fresh meat. Third place breaks the domestic industry food chain because it is occupied by the refining of oil. But then continue various food and after the fifth, which is for textiles and garments, again emerge foods with dairy products.
If priorities are concerned there is no doubt that Bolivian industry cares mainly that Bolivians have something to eat, drink and dress. Including oil refining, the Bolivian industry not presents a perspective of growth beyond the domestic market, and only in the petroleum refining, if the exploitation of hydrocarbons were to grow, you might think in a remote export. Other products that Bolivia produces industrially as the most important do not have a minimum chance of winning foreign markets.
In fact, their productivity is so low that the importation of similar products from neighbouring countries and primarily China is a threat to [Bolivian industry’s] tenure on the market. I do not think that the best answer to this threatening situation of extinction is protectionism.
The policy that should accompany this situation is to first recognize this undeniable reality and then plan a transition. It is necessary to realize that trade with China can not be halted and that their products are much lower than those who command the equivalent of national products. The transition requires strong State support aimed at industrial activities geared to international markets.
It requires thinking in relatively broad in short and long-term horizons to study, prepare and open markets as well as the necessary internal changes. State resources must flow to tasks of market research, as well as manufacturing processes that have been identified by national and international agencies from more than five years ago, but that still fails to give them real importance. I believe that the conditions in which the national industry moves are highly critical and require responses well thought out before they get massive closures [bankruptcies] that will cause major disadvantages.
Unfortunately, so far I see current governments’ technical capacity, let alone willingness to support Bolivian private sector is becoming a greater threat than imported (legal or illegally) goods themselves.