Guatemala shipped US$11 billion worth of products around the globe in 2017. That figure represents roughly 0.1% of overall global exports estimated at $15.952 trillion.
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.
At 2.3%, a much smaller portion of Guatemalan exports were bought by African importers.
For more recent trade data, please see Guatemala’s Top 10 Exports.
Guatemala’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Guatemala’s top trading partners. That is, these are the countries that imported the most Guatemalan shipments by dollar value during 2017. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Guatemalan exports.
- United States: US$3.8 billion (34.4% of total Guatemalan exports)
- El Salvador: $1.2 billion (11%)
- Honduras: $967.3 million (8.8%)
- Nicaragua: $562.2 million (5.1%)
- Mexico: $511 million (4.6%)
- Costa Rica: $423.4 million (3.8%)
- Netherlands: $355.2 million (3.2%)
- Panama: $288.8 million (2.6%)
- Canada: $222.2 million (2%)
- Italy: $161.3 million (1.5%)
- Japan: $153.7 million (1.4%)
- Dominican Republic: $144.9 million (1.3%)
- Germany: $141.3 million (1.3%)
- Saudi Arabia: $110.7 million (1%)
- United Kingdom: $101 million (0.9%)
By value, over four-fifths (83%) of Guatemalan exports in 2017 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
The fastest increase from 2016 to 2017 among the top 15 importers for Guatemalan exporters belong to: Saudi Arabia (up 50.6%), Italy (up 20%), Panama (up 16%), Netherlands (up 14.5%) and Mexico (up 11.4%).
Leading the decliners were Canada (down -36.1%), Japan (down -9.2%) then the United Kingdom (down -6.3%).
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit. During 2017, Guatemala posted an overall -$7.4 billion trade deficit expanding from the -$6.5 billion in red ink for 2016.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Guatemala incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- United States: -US$3.6 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2017)
- China: -$1.9 billion
- Mexico: -$1.5 billion
- Colombia: -$338.2 million
- India: -$272.6 million
- Panama: -$267.9 million
- Brazil: -$250.6 million
- South Korea: -$192.6 million
- Spain: -$191.1 million
- Costa Rica: -$186.9 million
Among Guatemala’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Guatemalan deficits with Brazil (up 40%), United States (up 23.2%) and Costa Rica (up 10.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Guatemala’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Guatemala to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Guatemala incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- Honduras: US$583.4 million (country-specific trade surplus in 2017)
- Nicaragua: $434 million
- Netherlands: $258.8 million
- El Salvador: $244.3 million
- Canada: $135.6 million
- Dominican Republic: $123.1 million
- Côte d’Ivoire: $85.7 million
- United Arab Emirates: $77.5 million
- Saudi Arabia: $63.7 million
- Belize: $62.1 million
Among Guatemala’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Guatemalan surpluses with United Arab Emirates (up 151.7%), Saudi Arabia (up 86.8%) and Côte d’Ivoire (up 52.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Guatemala’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Guatemala to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Guatemalan Trading Partners
Wikipedia lists exporters 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)
See also Guatemala’s Top 10 Exports, Panama’s Top 10 Exports and Top Central American Export Countries
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 21, 2018
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on May 21, 2018
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on May 21, 2018
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Guatemala. Accessed on May 21, 2018