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Liquidity remains high in Bolivia: domestic banks are willing to lend, and foreign investment – particularly from China – is increasing. The stock market is busier than ever, and despite a friendly bank atmosphere, non-traditional financings continue to make their mark. Although M&A is also more frequent, the Bolivian competition authority is increasingly vigilant, and so antitrust work is a steadily growing feature of the legal landscape.

Widespread mistrust of the court system has led to a rise in arbitration as opposed to litigation; commercial contracts now often contain arbitration clauses. Labour regulations remain relatively employee-friendly, especially given the working-class nature of so much of President Evo Morales’ voter base. Energy prices, meanwhile, have stabilised, although they remain relatively low; the government has become stricter in limiting expenditure on upstream projects.

Decision 486 of the Andean Community – an amendment of the Madrid Protocol whereby trade mark rights can be applied throughout Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador as long as they are registered in one of these four countries – has been the intellectual property framework of reference in Bolivia since 2000. Trade mark registrations, renewals and administrative opposition actions constitute the bulk of the country’s IP work, although non-contentious copyright and patent matters are areas of activity for some firms. Data privacy is an increasingly pertinent issue.

An increasing number of firms are advising clients on transfer pricing, although it remains a nascent field within the tax space at this stage: tax practices spend most of their time assisting clients with appealing tax assessments handed down by the national tax authority, the Servicio de Impuestos Nacionales (SIN), and advising them on the tax aspects of transactions.

Full-service firms Moreno Baldivieso Estudio De Abogados, Guevara & Gutiérrez S.C, Bufete Aguirre Soc. Civ., C.R. & F. Rojas – Abogados, Indacochea & Asociados and regional firm Ferrere dominate Bolivia’s legal market. Nonetheless, several boutiques have established reputations and operate at or near the top of their area; these include Estudio Jurídico Orpan in intellectual property, Carrasco, Forgues, Mercado & Aleman in labour and employment, and Benítez Rivas, Pérez & Asociados in tax. The main change in the legal market was the merger of the IP practices of Bufete Aguirre Soc. Civ. and Quintanilla, Soria & Nishizawa Soc. Civ. to create Meliora IP.

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