In 1995, El Salvador joined the World Trade Organization. El Salvador’s Congress ratified the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement on February 4, 2016.
On March 1, 2006, the U.S.-Central America Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered into force between El Salvador and the United States. As of 2015, all U.S. industrial and commercial goods enter El Salvador duty-free. To learn more on how to benefit from CAFTA-DR, please visit the FTA Help Center.
The General Treaty for Central American Integration, signed on December 13, 1960, created the Central American Common Market (CACM); the treaty was revived in the early 1990s. The five-member countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) have agreed on maximum tariffs harmonized with 95% of tariff rates, primarily for industrial goods.
To date, El Salvador has Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in force with the Dominican Republic (2001), Chile (2002), Panama (2003), the United States (2006), Colombia (2010), Mexico (2012), and South Korea (2020); and Partial Scope Agreements (PSAs) with Cuba (2012), and Ecuador (2017). In 2018, a Partial Scope Agreement was signed with Bolivia that is pending ratification. The PSA with Trinidad and Tobago is under legal revision. In 2010, Central America signed an Association Agreement with the European Union that included the establishment of a Free Trade Area; the agreement entered into force in August 2013. In 2019, Central America signed an Association Agreement with the United Kingdom, which has been in force since January 2021. El Salvador’s Congress ratified the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement on February 4, 2016. On November 9, 2022, El Salvador and China announced their intention to negotiate a FTA.
There is currently no date to establish a complete Central American Customs Union. There has been some progress on labeling standards. Still, the region has yet to address other issues related to creating a complete customs union, such as customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, standards, quota management, and intellectual property rights.
Guatemala and Honduras launched a Customs Union initiative in 2015 to facilitate trade by eliminating customs procedures at shared borders. In July 2018, after consultation with the private sector and government institutions, El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly approved the Customs Union adhesion protocol to the “Northern Triangle Customs Union.” In December 2021, a roadmap was approved by the three countries to incorporate El Salvador in the Deep Integration Process. Coffee, sugar, and goods under different rules of origin in FTAs and those with different tariffs have been excluded from the customs union. El Salvador has stated they expect toto start the integration process by December 2022.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance (TANC) is the gateway to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Trade Agreements Compliance Program, a network of U.S. Commerce Department and other U.S. Government resources working together to reduce or eliminate foreign trade barriers. Upon receiving a complaint, the TANC organizes a case-management team of U.S. government experts — including country, industry, and trade agreement specialists, as well as Commercial Service officers at home and abroad — to help U.S. firms facing barriers to trade in foreign markets.
U.S. companies that believe they have a complaint should contact the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Trade Agreements Compliance Program by submitting a trade complaint form.
Contact information for the TANC:
Office of Trade Negotiations and Compliance
U.S. Department of Commerce
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230