Guatemala - Country Commercial Guide
Market Opportunities
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Guatemalan businesspeople are accustomed to doing business with the United States, and most key contacts in large corporations are fluent in English. They also travel regularly to the United States to conduct business and attend trade shows and conferences related.

The Guatemalan market is competitive and price-sensitive. Businesspeople expect good after-sales service and support. U.S. brands enjoy a good and long-standing reputation in the market for superior quality, and for offering the after-sales support that competitors may not supply.

Despite a growing Asian presence in certain markets, the Guatemalans value conducting business with companies that stand behind the “Made in the USA” label.

As a signatory member of CAFTA-DR, Guatemalan importers and business representatives of U.S. products obtain CAFTA-DR benefits for their products when conducting business with the United States.

Almost all agricultural goods are now duty free under CAFTA-DR, except for few products that still have tariff-rate-quotas (TRQs) such as beans, rice, dairy, and white corn. TRQs will be completely phased out in 2023 for all, except white corn, that will continue to be protected into perpetuity.

In 2017, Guatemala began the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, under the World Trade Organization (WTO). Guatemala’s participation in this initiative will benefit commerce through harmonization and automated systems in customs, less discretional rulings, increased public-private sector dialogue, certainty and transparency on doing business internationally.

In 2019, a customs integration agreement was formalized between the three countries of the Northern Triangle - Guatemala, Honduras and El Savador.  The Central America Customs Union facilitates the flow of people and merchandise within the sub-region.  The customs union between Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador represents 75% of the region’s population (33 million out of 44 million Central Americans) and 48.5% of the regional GDP.  More than 77% of products are now in free circulation and 98% of tariffs are harmonized

The Government of Guatemala welcomes foreign investment and generally accords foreign investors national treatment. There are few legal or regulatory restrictions placed on foreign investors.  The country needs, however, to overcome several of the above-mentioned challenges in order to make Guatemala a truly business and investment friendly market.

The preliminary data from the Bank of Guatemala (BANGUAT) shows that the flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) totaled $3.47 billion in 2021, an immense increase compared to previous years due to Millicom’s acquisition of TIGO Guatemala for over $2.2 billion.  Other industries that attracted most of the FDI flows in 2021 included finance and insurance ($341.0 million); trade and repair of vehicles ($260.8 million), manufacturing industries ($249.2 million); and supply of electricity, water, and sanitation ($160 million). United States FDI totaled $132.6 million in 2021, a 27% increase compared to 2020.