Guatemala - Country Commercial Guide
Safety and Security Equipment

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-08-10

Overview 

There are a few Industries that were not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Safety and Security was one that showed an increase because of the new safety and security measures implemented around the world. In Guatemala, the government placed new safety procedures and guidelines to be able to open.  All companies, government institutions and even small neighborhood stores have camera and thermal scanners.  Buildings, offices, and stores in the country Implemented the systems and invested in equipment and training.

Guatemala continues to face security issues related to narcotics trafficking, organized crime, social economic disparity, and poverty. Most serious crimes are committed by local gangs.  

An ineffective and insufficient police force combined with a lack of prosecutions and convictions, contribute to Guatemala’s security problems. 

Weak institutions, remote areas without state presence, and the country’s geographic position between the drug producing nations of South America and consumers in the United States have made Guatemala an attractive territory for drug traffickers and other organized criminal groups.  

Citizens have little confidence in the local law enforcement agencies. Companies and individual citizens recognize the inability of the police to protect private property rights and this has led many to take security into their own hands. Guatemala has seen an increase in hired private security and demand for security systems.  The country has 136,000 private security guards but only 43,000 active police officers. 

The private security sector in Guatemala continues to grow; approximately 10 to 12% of a typical company’s budget is invested in private security. The Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have the largest concentration of private security firms in the region. 

 According to security statistics in Guatemala: 

  • There are currently more than 230 companies offering private security  
  • There are than 512,000 registered guns and approximately 1.5 million illegal guns in the country 
  • An estimated 400 tons of cocaine are smuggled through Guatemala every year 

The cost of a patrol to accompany a trailer from a port to the capital starts at $150, an additional custodian guard costs $87. Placing a satellite chip in a trailer truck costs $700 plus a monthly payment of $40 for the maintenance of the service. 

A new competitive challenge has emerged in the safety and security industry which is growing in Latin America:  interference and influence from China. Communist China’s presence is widely known as they are supporting all major Chinese manufacturers of cameras, video recorders and other security equipment by offering below-market value pricing and unlimited financing for security projects overseas. 

This not only affects the private market, in which they offer very low-cost products, but also for government procurement. Chinese competitors offer strong financial assistance, to secure contracts around the world. Guatemala is no exception.  

According to local businesspeople, the business practices are hurting Chinese brands as well. Chinese manufacturers are not loyal to their long-standing distributors in the region. If they can sell more products to another distributor in the country, they will do so and not inform their current distributor.  

Due to this business strategy, they have cannibalized the market and prices are in an all-time low. As a result, distributors are not making profits as in the past.

Trade data 2018-2021 

 

2018

2019

2020

2021 est.

 

Total Exports 

25,243 

25,863 

26,401

27,336

 

Total Imports 

634,657 

635,551 

634,254

660,145

 

Imports from the US 

322,554 

328,795 

332,566

335,989

 

Exchange Rates 

7.50 

7.50 

7.50 

7.50 

 

(Total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports) 
Units: $ thousands 
Source: SIECA Guatemala

Leading Sub-Sectors 

U.S. products have a 50% market share.  Most of the well-known brand companies from the U.S. have a distributor or agent locally and offer training, installation, and after-sales service. 

CCTV cameras have gained immense popularity across the country with diverse application segments and we project high growth in the upcoming years. The growing use of CCTV in schools, hospitals, streets, and retail sector is expected to ensure the development of the market in the country.    

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in demand for thermal cameras that monitor a human’s temperature. Private-sector companies, as well as the government have begun installing thermal cameras at the entry points of their buildings. 

Best prospects for products and services in the security and safety sector include: 

  • Tracking devices 
  • CCTV 
  • GPS and RFID technology Token Metal detectors (manual and arc type) 
  • Biometrics Perimeter security 
  • Alarms Access control equipment Armored vehicles Drones 

Opportunities 

Personal security products, protection products and high-tech solutions and services have the most significant opportunities. All security products are imported since there is no local production. Security products produced in the U.S. qualify to enter duty free under CAFTA - DR, only paying  the value added tax of 12%. 

We are in constant contact with security and safety equipment importers as well as the Security Chamber of Guatemala, to keep track of market trends, and importers interested in U.S. made products. We promote and send a delegation of importers each year to the ISC Expo and to ASIS International Expo trade shows. 

Resources 

  • Secretariat for the Central American Economic Integration Secretario General de la Secretaría de Integración Económica Centroamericana (SIECA)
  • Guatemalan Government Purchasing System: Sistema de Informacion de Contraciones y Adquisiciones del Estado
  • Guatemalan Security Association:  Gremial de Compañías de Seguridad Privada

Contact Information 

Interested parties may contact Commercial Specialist Antonio Prieto at antonio.prieto@trade.gov