El Salvador - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview

Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, and other issues that affect trade.

Last published date: 2022-12-12

The United States continues to be El Salvador’s leading trading partner and a highly receptive market for U.S. products and services.  In 2021, U.S. merchandise exports to El Salvador totaled about USD 4.1 billion, comprising 25% of the imports into El Salvador. El Salvador’s merchandise exports to the United States were USD 2.5 billion in 2021, about 40% of their total exports.  

El Salvador’s economy is predominantly services-based; the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021 was USD 28.7 billion, of which 70% was in services, 15.1% in manufacturing, 5.2% was in construction, and 4.9% in agriculture according to the Central Bank in El Salvador.  

U.S. companies exporting to El Salvador benefit from the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) with zero percent duties on U.S. consumer and industrial goods. CAFTA-DR entered into force on March 1, 2006 and has contributed to dramatic increases in the United States’ bilateral trade with El Salvador and broader trade throughout the Central American region. 

El Salvador’s dollarized economy eliminates foreign exchange risk and lowers transaction and financial costs. In September 2021, Bitcoin became a legal tender in El Salvador in addition to the U.S. dollar, but this hasn’t had a significant impact on bilateral trade. 

There are 193 U.S. subsidiaries in El Salvador from 109 U.S parent companies. U.S. companies with a market presence include Abbott Laboratories, AES Corp, American Airlines, AT&T Inc., Caterpillar, Citibank, Hanesbrands, Cisco, Delta, FedEx, General Electric, General Motors, John Deere, Kimberly-Clark, Microsoft, PriceSmart, SBA Communications, United, Walmart, Xerox, 3M, and many others, as well as dozens of U.S franchises. 

Political & Economic Environment:  State Department’s website for background on the country’s political environment.