While foreign investors might be feeling a lot of uncertainty about Bolivia’s resource sector policy, one thing is perfectly clear: Bolivian President Evo Morales is firmly in control of any foreign-funded project seeking to develop the country's natural resource wealth.
And when partnerships with foreign investors turn sour, he has not hesitated to seize the underlying assets. That has occurred with surprising frequency this year. In the past four months, Bolivia has nationalized a Canadian company’s silver mine, a tin and zinc mine operated by the Swiss commodities giant Glencore and a Spanish electric grid operation. To say nothing of the government’s strong-arm negotiating tactics, which have resulted in rollbacks of once-hyped investments.
But while nationalizations seem to be on the rise in Bolivia, Asian investors continue to plow money into the country. Late last month, for example, China’s ambassador signed a preliminary agreement for Hydrochina Corporation to build a 400-megawatt dam in eastern Bolivia.