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$11 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017.

That dollar amount reflects a 9.4% gain since 2013 and a 4% uptick from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Guatemala’s exported goods plus services represent 19.3% of total Guatemalan economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, 41% of Guatemalan exports by value were delivered to North American countries while 38% are sold to Latin American importers excluding those in Mexico but including the Caribbean. Guatemala delivers another 9.8% worth of goods to European clients with 8.4% going to Asia and 2.3% arriving in Africa.

With a population of 15.5 million people making Guatemala the most highly populated country in Central America, Guatemala’s $11 billion worth of exports in 2017 translates to roughly $700 for every resident.

Guatemala’s unemployment rate was 2.3% as of June 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 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Guatemala.

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, the most valuable Guatemalan export products are bananas and plantains trailed by sugar, coffee, palm oil then nutmeg.

  1. Fruits, nuts: US$1.2 billion (11% of total exports)
  2. Coffee, tea, spices: $1.1 billion (10.2%)
  3. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $1.1 billion (9.9%)
  4. Sugar, sugar confectionery: $930.8 million (8.5%)
  5. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $570.4 million (5.2%)
  6. Mineral fuels including oil: $381.2 million (3.5%)
  7. Ores, slag, ash: $321.2 million (2.9%)
  8. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $317.8 million (2.9%)
  9. Plastics, plastic articles: $316.4 million (2.9%)
  10. Iron, steel: $305 million (2.8%)

By value, Guatemala’s top 10 exports accounted for 59.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Iron and steel was the fastest-growing among Guatemala;s top 10 export categories, up in value by 32.1% from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for improving export sales was the coffee, tea and spices category which appreciated by 26.8% thanks mainly to improved international sales of nutmeg and coffee.

Guatemalan shipments of animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes posted the third-fastest gain via a 20.7% increase.

Leading the decliners was the ores, slag and ash category due in large part to falling exports from Guatemala for precious-metal ores and concentrates as well as zinc ores and concentrates.


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 reflect 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$1.1 billion (Up by 2.1% since 2016)
  2. Coffee, tea, spices: $1.1 billion (Up by 26.7%)
  3. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $990.7 million (Up by 5.9%)
  4. Sugar, sugar confectionery: $870.7 million (Down by -0.7%)
  5. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $385.3 million (Up by 20.9%)
  6. Ores, slag, ash: $318.5 million (Down by -50.7%)
  7. Vegetables: $224.2 million (Up by 1.5%)
  8. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $156.5 million (Up by 1.2%)
  9. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $113.4 million (Down by -7.8%)
  10. Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $83.7 million (Up by 18.6%)

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$2.4 billion (Up by 23.6% since 2016)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$1.4 billion (Up by 1.9%)
  3. Vehicles: -$1.4 billion (Up by 4%)
  4. Machinery including computers: -$1.3 billion (Up by 5.5%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$735.1 million (Up by 5.4%)
  6. Paper, paper items: -$459.2 million (Up by 31.6%)
  7. Cereals: -$405 million (Up by 6.7%)
  8. Pharmaceuticals: -$391.9 million (Up by 20.7%)
  9. Iron, steel: -$319.1 million (Up by 17.3%)
  10. Organic chemicals: -$280.3 million (Up by 8.7%)

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 fuels-related 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:

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

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, Jamaica’s Top 10 Exports and Cuba’s Top 10 Exports

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 4, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on June 4, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 4, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 4, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Guatemala. Accessed on June 4, 2018