Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Guatemala’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $125.6 billion in 2015.
Therefore, exports accounted for just 8.6% of total Guatemalan economic output.
From a continental perspective, 41.5% of Guatemalan exports by value are delivered to North American countries while 29% are sold to Central American Common Market importers. Guatemala ships another 9.1% worth of goods to Asian clients with 8.7% going to Europe.
Boasting a population of 14.9 million making it the most highly populated country in Central America, Guatemala’s $10.8 billion worth of exports in 2015 roughly translates to $721 for every resident in that country.
Guatemala’s unemployment rate was 2.9% in 2014 according to Trading Economics.
Guatemala’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Guatemalan global shipments during 2015. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Guatemala.
- Fruits, nuts: US$1.1 billion (10.5% of total exports)
- Knit or crochet clothing: $1 billion (9.7%)
- Sugar: $973.5 million (9.1%)
- Coffee, tea and spices: $910.5 million (8.5%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $733.9 million (6.8%)
- Oil: $439.8 million (4.1%)
- Animal/vegetable fats and oils: $361.1 million (3.4%)
- Plastics: $313 million (2.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $311.9 million (2.9%)
- Beverages: $288.2 million (2.7%)
Fruits and nuts were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 70.8% in value for the 5-year period starting in 2011.
In second place for improving export sales were pharmaceuticals which was gained 49.6%.
Guatemalan beverages posted the third-fastest gain in value at 43.6%, followed by sugar’s 28.5% appreciation.
Guatemalan coffee, nutmeg, pepper and other spices led the decliners with a -31.2% depreciation from 2011 to 2015
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.
- Fruits, nuts: US$1 billion (Up by 71.5% since 2011)
- Knit or crochet clothing: $941.2 million (Up by 7.4%)
- Sugar: $909.3 million (Up by 28%)
- Coffee, tea and spices: $896.4 million (Down by -31.8%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $730.6 million (Down by -19.4%)
- Vegetables: $207.4 million (Up by 46%)
- Animal/vegetable fats and oils: $196.9 million (Up by 101.2%)
- Clothing (not knit or crochet): $150.5 million (Down by -13.7%)
- Beverages: $128.8 million (Up by 14.5%)
- Live trees and plants: $60.1 million (Up by 20.5%)
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.
- Oil: -US$2.3 billion (Down by -17.3% since 2011)
- Machines, engines, pumps: -$1.5 billion (Up by 27.3%)
- Electronic equipment: -$1.5 billion (Up by 30.4%)
- Vehicles: -$1.3 billion (Up by 44.6%)
- Plastics: -$815.2 million (Up by 20.3%)
- Cereals: -$467 million (Up by 4.8%)
- Paper: -$432.5 million (Up by 4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$426.6 million (Up by 74.1%)
- Iron and steel: -$331.3 million (Down by -18.9%)
- Organic chemicals: -$297.7 million (Up by 23%)
Guatemala has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for fossil fuels including both refined and crude 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 exporters 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 Import Partners and Most Valuable Guatemalan Export Products
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 9, 2016
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on April 9, 2016
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on April 9, 2016
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 9, 2016
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Guatemala. Accessed on April 9, 2016