Guatemala’s Top 10 Exports

Guatemala’s Top 10 Exports


A Central American country sharing its borders with Mexico to the north, Belize to its northeast, Honduras to its east, and El Salvador to its southeast, the Republic of Guatemala exported US$10.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016. That dollar amount is a 45.2% gain since 2009 when the Great Recession kicked in but represents a -2% drop from 2015 to 2016.

Guatemala’s top 10 exports accounted for 60.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Guatemala’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $138.3 billion as of October 2017. Therefore, exports accounted for roughly 7.6% of total Guatemalan economic output.

From a continental perspective, 41.4% of Guatemalan exports by value are delivered to North American countries while 29.8% are sold to Central American Common Market importers (El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica). Guatemala ships another 9.7% worth of goods to European clients with 7.8% going to Asia.

Boasting a population of 15.5 million people making it the most highly populated country in Central America, Guatemala’s $10.5 billion worth of exports in 2016 roughly translates to $680 for every resident in that country.

Guatemala’s unemployment rate is a projected 3.1% as of October 2017 according to Trading Economics.

Guatemala’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Guatemalan global shipments during 2016. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Guatemala. The number one Guatemalan export product is cane or beet sugar in solid form, followed by bananas then coffee.

  1. Fruits, nuts: US$1.1 billion (10.6% of total exports)
  2. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $1 billion (9.8%)
  3. Sugar, sugar confectionery: $930 million (8.9%)
  4. Coffee, tea, spices: $884.6 million (8.5%)
  5. Ores, slag, ash: $648 million (6.2%)
  6. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $470.8 million (4.5%)
  7. Mineral fuels including oil: $338 million (3.2%)
  8. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $315.9 million (3%)
  9. Plastics, plastic articles: $310.9 million (3%)
  10. Pharmaceuticals: $308.7 million (2.9%)

Animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up in value by 184.7% over the 7-year period starting in 2009.

In second place for improving export sales were ores, slag and ash which was gained 93% thanks in large part to exported lead ores and concentrates.

Guatemalan plastics and plastic articles posted the third-fastest gain in value up 89.7%.

The coffee, tea and spices category was the sole decliner via its slight -0.5% depreciation from 2009 to 2016 mostly due to big drop in cardamom spice sales.


The following types of Guatemalan product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports is the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Fruits, nuts: US$1 billion (Up by 71.3% since 2009)
  2. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $931 million (Up by 24.1%)
  3. Sugar, sugar confectionery: $870.6 million (Up by 53.7%)
  4. Coffee, tea, spices: $869.4 million (Down by -1.7%)
  5. Ores, slag, ash: $646 million (Up by 96.6%)
  6. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $316.9 million (Up by 1,554%)
  7. Vegetables: $206.5 million (Up by 40.9%)
  8. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $152.3 million (Up by 39.8%)
  9. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $121.4 million (Down by -7.2%)
  10. Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $70.6 million (Up by 46.1%)

Guatemala has highly positive net exports in the international trade of bananas, melons and nuts. In turn, these cashflows indicate Guatemala’s strong competitive advantages under the fruits and nuts product category.


Below are exports from Guatemala that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Guatemala’s goods trail Guatemalan importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$2 billion (Up by 2.1% since 2009)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$1.4 billion (Up by 74.3%)
  3. Vehicles: -$1.3 billion (Up by 127%)
  4. Machinery including computers: -$1.2 billion (Up by 52.7%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$698.8 million (Up by 52.1%)
  6. Cereals: -$379.7 million (Up by 23.8%)
  7. Paper, paper items: -$352.2 million (Up by 9.5%)
  8. Pharmaceuticals: -$324.9 million (Up by 43.7%)
  9. Iron, steel: -$272.2 million (Up by 69.3%)
  10. Organic chemicals: -$258.7 million (Up by 56.9%)

Guatemala has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for fossil fuels led by refined petroleum oils and petroleum gases.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Guatemala’s competitive disadvantages in the international fossil fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for Guatemala to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations particularly alternative energy sources.


Guatemalan Export Companies

Wikipedia lists exporting businesses from Guatemala. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Corporación Multi Inversiones (agro-industrial conglomerate)
  • Malher (food, beverages)
  • Ron Zacapa Centenario (premium rum)
  • Trama Textiles (hand-made woven goods)
  • Claro Americas (telecommunications)

Guatemala’s capital Guatemala City.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Guatemala’s Top Trading Partners and Most Valuable Guatemalan Export Products

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on October 25, 2017

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on October 25, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on October 25, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 25, 2017

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Guatemala. Accessed on October 25, 2017