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    El Salvador’s GDP to Surge 10X by 2029 with Bitcoin and AI: Cathie Wood

    El Salvador's economy could grow tenfold in the next five years if it continues its Bitcoin and artificial intelligence (AI) adoption under President Nayib Bukele, according to ARK Invest CEO Cathie Wood.

    “President Bukele’s determination to turn El Salvador into an oasis for the Bitcoin and AI communities — two of the biggest economic and technology revolutions in history — is the reason I believe that its real GDP could scale 10-fold during the next five years,” Wood said in a May 28 X post after meeting Bukele.

    The meeting between Wood and Bukele focused on Bitcoin’s integration into capital markets, AI advancements, and tax policies.

    Max Keiser, an advisor to Bukele on Bitcoin matters, said Wood detailed how El Salvador could raise its GDP to $300 billion by 2029. Bitcoin advocate Stacy Herbet, U.S. economist Arthur Laffer, and ARK Invest research associate Marc Seal were also present.

    El Salvador’s GDP was $32.4 billion in 2022, up over 30% since Bukele took office in June 2019, according to World Bank data. Reaching $300 billion would align El Salvador’s GDP with countries like Romania, the Czech Republic, and Chile.

    Since Bukele's presidency began, El Salvador has made Bitcoin legal tender, removed taxes on tech innovation, and eliminated income tax for foreign investments and remittances. In April 2024, Google expanded into El Salvador with a $500 million strategic partnership.

    El Salvador holds 5,764 Bitcoin in its treasury, valued at $396.2 million, marking a 58.6% increase from its average purchase price. However, Bitcoin adoption among locals has faced challenges.

    A mostly tech-illiterate population, lack of merchant enforcement, and issues with the rollout of El Salvador’s Chivo Wallet in 2021 have hindered progress, said Jamie Robinson, chief strategy officer of The Bitcoin Hardware Store. 

    In 2023, only 12% of the local population used Bitcoin at least once for purchases, down from 2022, according to a January survey by José Simeón Cañas Central American University.

    Robinson noted that Bitcoin’s rising price in early 2023 sparked a new wave of merchant adoption, led by companies like Walmart, Starbucks, and Domino’s.

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