From 2020 to 2021, the value of Guatemala’s exports expanded by 19.2% from $11.4 billion.
Guatemala’s 5 Most Valuable International Customers
The top 5 most valuable importers for products that Guatemala exported during 2021 are the United States of America, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico. Combined, that quintet of major Guatemalan trade partners generated almost two-thirds (65.4%) of Guatemala’s export revenues.
Applying a continental lens, 41.4% of Guatemalan exports by value was delivered to fellow Latin American importers excluding those in Mexico but including the Caribbean. Another 37.5% worth was sold to customers in North America, while 11.3% went to Europe.
Smaller percentages of Guatemalan exports were sold to importers to Asia (8.3%), Africa (1.2%) and Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Guatemala’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 25 of Guatemala’s top trading partners. That is, these are the countries that imported the most Guatemalan shipments by dollar value during 2021. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Guatemalan exports.
- United States: US$4.3 billion (31.8% of total Guatemalan exports)
- El Salvador: $1.7 billion (12.7%)
- Honduras: $1.4 billion (10.3%)
- Nicaragua: $843.9 million (6.2%)
- Mexico: $592.6 million (4.4%)
- Costa Rica: $540.9 million (4%)
- Netherlands: $403.2 million (3%)
- China: $333.7 million (2.5%)
- Panama: $296.2 million (2.2%)
- Italy: $292.2 million (2.1%)
- Spain: $266.3 million (2%)
- Dominican Republic: $198.9 million (1.5%)
- Canada: $182 million (1.3%)
- Saudi Arabia: $157.4 million (1.2%)
- Japan: $135.1 million (1%)
- Germany: $126.7 million (0.9%)
- Belize: $120.7 million (0.9%)
- Belgium: $107.1 million (0.8%)
- United Kingdom: $94.3 million (0.7%)
- South Korea: $90.4 million (0.7%)
- Chile: $90.1 million (0.7%)
- United Arab Emirates: $85.2 million (0.6%)
- Ecuador: $73.6 million (0.5%)
- Taiwan: $68 million (0.5%)
- Ukraine: $67.6 million (0.5%)
By value, over nine-tenths (92.8%) of Guatemalan exports in 2021 were delivered to the above 25 trade partners.
The fastest increases among the listed importers for Guatemala’s exports belong to: Belgium (up 64.1%), Ecuador (up 56.9% from 2020), Belize (up 52.8%), Italy (up 45.5%) and mainland China (up 39.8%).
Leading the year-over-year decliners were the United Arab Emirates (down -52.2%), Saudi Arabia (down -50.6%) then Japan (down -18.2%).
Countries Causing Guatemala’s Largest 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.
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 2021, 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 of America: -US$4.7 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2021)
- China: -$3.4 billion
- Mexico: -$2.2 billion
- India: -$523.8 million
- Colombia: -$448.7 million
- Panama: -$405.4 million
- Brazil: -$369.4 million
- Vietnam: -$341.2 million
- South Korea: -$320.5 million
- Hong Kong: -$307.2 million
Among Guatemala’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Guatemalan deficits with South Korea (up 96.4%), India (up 86.3%) and the United States of America (up 72.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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.
Countries Driving Guatemala’s Best Trade Surpluses
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$662.4 million (country-specific trade surplus in 2021)
- Nicaragua: $659.3 million
- El Salvador: $387.4 million
- Netherlands: $240.2 million
- Dominican Republic: $168.2 million
- Italy: $108.9 million
- Belize: $107 million
- Saudi Arabia: $66.4 million
- Ivory Coast: $59.3 million
- United Arab Emirates: $57.4 million
Among Guatelmala’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Guatelmalan surpluses with Ivory Coast (up 146%), Belize (up 45.3%) and Italy (up 34.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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, 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
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on July 4, 2022
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on July 4, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Guatemala. Accessed on July 4, 2022