Year over year, the dollar value of products exported from the 7 Central American countries featured in this article accelerated by 25.5% compared to $46.8 billion during 2020.
For benchmarking purposes, overall exports from all countries worldwide equaled $21.953 trillion in 2021, rising by a slightly faster 25% in gain value since 2017 but increasing by a similar 25.5% year over year.
To give further context, consider that Central American exported goods represent well under one percent (0.3%) of the global tally versus 43.1% for countries in Asia and 36.9% for Europe.
Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, the total Gross Domestic Product for all Central American countries amounted to $595.7 billion for 2021. In context, the $58.7 billion in exports represents about 9.9% of total Central American economic output. That percentage is down slightly from 10% for 2020.
Given that the population for the 7 countries was 51.5 million people, the total $58.7 billion in Central American exports during 2021 translates to roughly $1,150 for every person living in a Central American country. That dollar metric represents a significant increase from the average $1,000 per capita one year earlier.
Top Central American Export Countries
Below are seven top Central American export countries plus the corresponding dollar value in global shipments for 2021. Also shown is each country’s overall share of exports from the study’s Central American total.
- Costa Rica: US$14.3 billion (24.4% of Central American exports)
- Guatemala: $13.6 billion (23.2%)
- Panama: $13.4 billion (22.8%)
- Nicaragua: $6.5 billion (11.1%)
- El Salvador: $5.7 billion (9.6%)
- Honduras: $5 billion (8.5%)
- Belize: $257.5 million (0.4%)
The fastest growers from 2020 to 2021 among these Central American exporters were Costa Rica (up 35.2%), Nicaragua (up 31.9%), Panama (up 26.2%), then El Salvador (up 24.3%) and Guatemala (up 23.5%).
There was a pair of decliners year over year, namely Belize (down -12.2% from 2020) and Honduras (down -5.9%).
Central American Economy Notes
The most populous countries in Central America are Guatemala which was home to 18.34 million residents in 2021, Honduras (10.1 million residents), Nicaragua (6.54 million residents), El Salvador (6.52 million residents), Costa Rica (5.2 million residents) and Panama (4.34 million residents).
Calculated on a Purchasing Parity Basis in US dollars, the wealthiest Central American economies were Guatemala ($167.8 billion), Panama ($138.8 billion), Costa Rica ($116.9 billion), El Salvador ($63 billion), Honduras ($62.9 billion) and Nicaragua ($42.7 billion).
See also Guatemala’s Top 10 Exports, Costa Rica’s Top 10 Exports, El Salvador’s Top 10 Exports and Panama’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Field Listing: Exports and Field Listing: Population. Accessed on November 7, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on November 7, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on November 7, 2022