El Salvador - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview
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The United States continues to be El Salvador’s leading trade partner and a highly receptive market for U.S. products and services.  In 2022, U.S. merchandise exports to El Salvador totaled about USD 4.9 billion, comprising 30% of the imports into El Salvador. El Salvador’s merchandise exports to the United States were USD 2.8 billion in 2022, about 39% of their total exports.

El Salvador’s economy is predominantly services-based; the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2022 was USD 32.4 billion, economic activities with greatest growth were electricity with 14.4%, professional and technical services with 9.4%, and construction with 8.3% growth, 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.

In the last year, El Salvador has made a great effort to improve the business environment and attract foreign direct investment by streamlining regulations, eliminating red tape, digitizing government services, and streamlining border security and customs. The government is working to streamline 685 procedures with an investment of $5 million.  In phase one of this project, 13 government institutions simplified 242 procedures, resulting in a 60% reduction in response time. Additionally, the Directorate of National Medicine (DNM) reduced its response time to all procedures, including product registrations by 70%, and the number of days to receive authorizations to start operations in the free trade zone fell from 270 to just 15.

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.

There are 225 U.S. subsidiaries in El Salvador from 105 U.S. parent companies. U.S. companies with a market presence include AES Corp, Citibank, Chevron, Hanesbrands, Delta, Equifax, FedEx, Fruit of the Loom, Google, Kimberly-Clark, Microsoft, PriceSmart, SBA Communications, United, Walmart, and many others, as well as dozens of U.S franchises.