That dollar amount reflects a 45.5% advance from the $10.9 billion worth of Guatemalan exports in 2018.
Year over year, Guatemala’s global exports increased by 16.3% compared to $13.6 billion during 2021.
Guatemala’s Best Customers for its Exports
The latest available country-specific data shows that 83.7% of products exported from Guatemala were bought by importers in: United States of America (32.3% of the Guatemalan total), El Salvador (13%), Honduras (10%), Nicaragua (6.3%), Mexico (4.4%), Netherlands (4.2%), Costa Rica (4%), mainland China (2.7%), Panama (2%), Spain (1.9%), Dominican Republic (1.7%) and Italy (1.3%).
From a continental perspective, 42.2% of Guatemala’s exports by value was delivered to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean countries while 37.9% was sold to importers in North America. Guatemala shipped another 10.5% worth of goods to Europe with 8.1% going to Asia.
Smaller percentages went to buyers in Africa (1.2%), and Oceania (0.1%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
A population of 18.71 million people in 2022 makes Guatemala the most highly populated country in Central America. Guatemala’s $15.8 billion in exported goods translates to roughly $850 worth of exports per resident. That dollar metric exceeds the average $740 per capita one year earlier in 2021.
Guatemala’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Guatemalan global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Guatemala.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$1.7 billion (10.5% of total exports)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $1.54 billion (9.8%)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.47 billion (9.3%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $1.2 billion (7.4%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $954.9 million (6%)
- Iron, steel: $717 million (4.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $607.1 million (3.8%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $456.8 million (2.9%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $456.1 million (2.9%)
- Paper, paper items: $415.6 million (2.6%)
Guatemala’s top 10 exports accounted for three-fifths (59.8%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Sugar including sugar confectionery was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 46.5% from 2021 to 2022.
In second place for improving export sales was animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes via a 29.5% upturn.
Guatemala’s shipments of beverages, spirits and vinegar recorded the third-fastest gain in value, up by 28.8%.
The most modest increase among Guatemala’s top 10 export categories was coffee, tea and spices, posting a 5.9% year-over-year improvement.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, coffee represents Guatemala’s most valuable exported products at 7.1% of the country’s total. Close behind in second place were bananas and plantains (6.8%), trailed by palm oil (5.8%), sugar (5.1%), knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (3.3%), iron ferroalloys (3%), spices like cardamoms and nutmeg (2.6%), knitted or crocheted men’s shirts (2.3%), knitted or crocheted men’s shirts (also 2.3%), then medication mixes in dosage (2.1%).
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$1.51 billion (Up by 5.7% since 2021)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $1.49 billion (Up by 16.9%)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.3 billion (Up by 14.6%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $838.1 million (Up by 50.4%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $798.8 million (Up by 47.2%)
- Vegetables: $331.9 million (Down by -6.3%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $113 million (Up by 1.1%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $108 million (Up by 69.2%)
- Soaps, washing preparations, lubricants, waxes: $107.6 million (Up by 104.3%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $60.6 million (Down by -36%)
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 -US$16.3 billion trade deficit during 2022, expanding by 25.2% from the -$13 billion in red ink one year earlier in 2021.
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$5.2 billion (Up by 44.4% since 2021)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2.2 billion (Up by 13.7%)
- Vehicles: -$2.1 billion (Up by 9.7%)
- Machinery including computers: -$2.1 billion (Up by 12.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.3 billion (Up by 9%)
- Cereals: -$971 million (Up by 43.9%)
- Paper, paper items: -$765.2 million (Up by 67.8%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$756.2 million (Up by 26.7%)
- Iron, steel: -$628 million (Down by -5.1%)
- Organic chemicals: -$543.6 million (Up by 42.8%)
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 8.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($187.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 8.4% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2022 compares to 8.1% for 2021. 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 2.57% in 2022, down from an average 2.94% for 2021 according to metrics portal Statista.
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 May 30, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on May 30, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 30, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 30, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on May 30, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Guatemala. Accessed on May 30, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on May 30, 2023