That dollar amount reflects a 23.5% advance from the $11 billion worth of Guatemalan exports in 2017.
Year over year, Guatemala’s global exports increased by 19.2% from $11.4 billion during 2020.
Guatemala’s 5 top export products are: bananas including plantains, coffee, palm oil, cardamoms and spices including nutmeg, and sugar. Collectively, that quintet of most valuable exports represents over a quarter (26.6%) of the overall value of Guatemalan exported goods.
Guatemala’s Largest Import Suppliers
The latest available country-specific data shows that 82.5% of products exported from Guatemala were bought by importers in: United States of America (31.8% of Guatemala’s global total), El Salvador (12.7%), Honduras (10.3%), Nicaragua (6.2%), Mexico (4.4%), Costa Rica (4%), Netherlands (3%), mainland China (2.5%), Panama (2.2%), Italy (2.1%), Spain (2%) and the Dominican Republic (1.5%).
From a continental perspective, 41.4% of Guatemala’s exports by value were delivered to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean countries while 37.5% were sold to importers in North America. Guatemala shipped another 11.3% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to Asia (8.3%), Africa (1.2%) then Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
A population of 18.34 million people in 2021 makes Guatemala the most highly populated country in Central America. Guatemala’s $13.6 billion in exported goods translates to roughly $740 worth of exports per resident. That dollar metric exceeds the average $650 per capita one year earlier in 2020.
Guatemala’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Guatemalan global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Guatemala.
- Coffee, tea, spices: US$1.5 billion (10.7% of total exports)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $1.4 billion (10.5%)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.3 billion (9.4%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $906.4 million (6.7%)
- Iron, steel: $655.7 million (4.8%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $651.8 million (4.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $519.8 million (3.8%)
- Vegetables: $410 million (3%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $369.2 million (2.7%)
- Paper, paper items: $356 million (2.6%)
Guatemala’s top 10 exports accounted for 59% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 54.7% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales were the metals iron and steel via a 43.3% advance.
Guatemala’s shipments of plastics both as materials and articles made from plastic posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 41.6%.
The leading decliner among Guatemala’s top 10 export categories was coffee, tea and spices thanks to its -13.1% year-over-year drop. Guatemalan exported coffee increased while tea exports were stable, however exports of the spice cardamoms fell significantly.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, bananas and plantains represent Guatemala’s most valuable exported products at 6.9% of the country’s total. Close behind in second place was coffee (6.8%), trailed by palm oil (5.2%), spices like cardamoms and nutmeg (3.8%), sugar (3.7%), iron ferroalloys (3%), knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (2.9%), knitted or crocheted men’s shirts (2.8%), medication mixes in dosage (2.3%) then knitted or crocheted women’s blouses and shirts (1.9%).
Products Generating Guatemala’s Largest Trade Surpluses
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.
- Coffee, tea, spices: US$1.4 billion (Down by -13.4% since 2020)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $1.3 billion (Up by 30.4%)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.2 billion (Up by 2.7%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $557.2 million (Down by -13%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $542.7 million (Up by 39.9%)
- Vegetables: $354 million (Up by 13.9%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $111.7 million (Up by 32.5%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $94.7 million (Up by 80%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $63.8 million (Down by -8.1%)
- Soaps, washing preparations, lubricants, waxes: $52.7 million (Up by 27.2%)
Guatemala has notably positive net exports in the international trade of coffee and the spice cardamom. In turn, these cashflows indicate Guatemala’s strong competitive advantages under the coffee, tea and spices product category.
Products Causing Guatemala’s Worst Trade Deficits
Guatemala incurred an overall -$13 billion trade deficit during 2021, almost double the -$6.8 billion in red ink one year earlier in 2020.
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$3.6 billion (Up by 92.2% since 2020)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2 billion (Up by 32.8%)
- Vehicles: -$1.9 billion (Up by 60.1%)
- Machinery including computers: -$1.8 billion (Up by 39%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.2 billion (Up by 63.5%)
- Cereals: -$674.6 million (Up by 23.3%)
- Iron, steel: -$661.8 million (Up by 204.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$596.7 million (Up by 41.1%)
- Paper, paper items: -$456 million (Up by 47.7%)
- Cotton: -$432.5 million (Up by 92.6%)
Guatemala has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for fossil fuels related products particularly refined petroleum oils, petroleum gases and coal.
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 on 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)
In macroeconomic terms, Guatemala’s total exported goods represent 8.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($167.9 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 8.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 7.8% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Guatemala’s total economic performance, albeit based on a relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Guatemala’s unemployment rate averaged 3.57% in 2021, up from an average 3.55% for 2020 according to website TheGlobalEconomy.
Guatemala’s capital is Guatemala City.
See also Guatemala’s Top Trading Partners, Costa Rica’s Top 10 Exports, El Salvador’s Top 10 Exports and Belize’s Top 10 Exports, Dominican Republic’s Top 10 Exports and Cuba’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on July 4, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity)
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 4, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 4, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 4, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Guatemala. Accessed on July 4, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 4, 2022