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Müller, Juliane (2018): Andean-Pacific Commerce and Credit: Bolivian Traders, Asian Migrant Businesses, and International Manufacturers in the Regional Economy. In: Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Vol. 23, No. 1: pp. 18-36
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Abstract

This article deals with the changing configuration of regional trade in consumer electronics. Based on data from ethnographic fieldwork since 2013 at various locations (marketplaces in La Paz, Bolivia, and the free trade zone of Iquique, Northern Chile), and a historical analysis of the last three decades, the aim of the article is to understand Bolivian popular commerce as it becomes increasingly connected to East Asian commodity chains and corporations, specifically China-centered international markets. At the free zone, the process is characterized by supplier's credit circulating between Asian migrant merchants and Bolivian traders. At urban marketplaces in Bolivia, locally specific forms of trust-building are adopted by all actors, including multinational corporations, although the latter refrain from informal credit. Recent Chinese-Bolivian joint ventures and Chinese corporate investments in Bolivia incorporate past practices but also try to streamline commodity chains. The analysis shows that the engagement of multinational enterprises contributes to growing socio-economic differences among Bolivian traders.