El Salvador - Country Commercial Guide
Safety and Security Equipment

This is a top sector for El Salvador includes overview and trade data

Last published date: 2020-09-30

Overview 

 

2017 

2018 

2019 

2020(Estimated) 

Total Local Production 

Total Exports 

309,424,911.9 

370,448,001.2 

299,568,749.8 

224,676,562.4 

Total Imports 

818,160,180.34 

919,522,685.81 

875,909,565.96 

9,635,000,522.55 

Imports from the US 

81,125,188.40 

71,288,296.48 

70,794,829.90 

74,334,571.39 

Total Market Size 

508,735,268.44 

549,074,684.61 

576,340,816.16 

9,410,323,960.20 

Exchange Rates 

NA 

NA 

NA 

NA 

(total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports). Information on local production not available. 

Source: Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador; statistics in millions of U.S. dollars. Trade data constructed on products classified under HS code 85, and HS 93.   

Official currency is U.S. dollar, no exchange rates apply.  

Overall, the United States continues to be the main source of imports in El Salvador, leading about 30% of the imports market share in 2019, followed by China with 14% of market share.  There is no significant local production of safety and security equipment in El Salvador and import duties for most security equipment and devices are zero percent, subject to a 13% value added tax. To do business in El Salvador, a U.S. company should either register an office or work with a local agent to navigate the procurement registration process and follow up on public and private opportunities.  Also, the Ministry of Justice and Security must authorize private security companies and individuals providing alarm monitoring, security, private investigations, transportation of valuables, and guard services. Additionally, the Arms, Ammunition, and Explosive Law requires prior authorization of the Ministry of Defense for the importation of firearms, pepper sprays, chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile (CS) and chloroacetophenone (CN) tear gas, explosives, electrical shock protection devices, and similar products.   

Safety and security equipment demand in El Salvador offers a steady market of opportunities for U.S. exporters.  Even though crime rates in El Salvador have been dropping, the country is still widely viewed as insecure by its citizenry and there are real dangers that exist. Businesses and private citizens protect themselves from crimes such as extortion, assault, and robbery, and thus security is a vital factor for private companies, public institutions, Salvadorans in general, and international trade related activities.     

The government of El Salvador’s plan to mitigate crime and violence has included decisions that improve procedures, security, and efficiency in the criminal justice sector such as the purchase of electric monitoring bracelets, the integration of a monitoring and communication system, acquisition of new patrol vehicles, patrol vehicle equipment for the police, screening technology for prisons and airports, among others.  The greatest challenge is the lack of resources to fund security plans, but the acquisition of technology, infrastructure, and police equipment is commonly through loans from international financing institutions, international cooperation, and/or a fund created by law specifically for security that imposes a 5% tax on purchases of telecommunications products, and services such as fixed and mobile telephony, pay-TV, and internet.  The United States cooperation on security includes border security, violence prevention, prison reform, and other areas highlighted in the following link:  

https://www.state.gov/j/inl/regions/westernhemisphere/219166.htm 

The private sector expenditures in safety and security is mostly on guards, perimeter surveillance, and asset protection.  It is common practice to hire services from private security companies for commercial and residential security, including guards, security armed patrol, and GPS tracked vehicles.  In the main city of San Salvador, its and other neighboring municipalities are cooperating to increase city surveillance and municipal police as they share responsibilities for preventing and responding to crime and violence.  To sell US products and services in El Salvador, the use of an agent or distributor is recommended, as well as to develop contracts between the parties using provisions in CAFTA-DR Chapter 11 

Leading Sub-Sectors 

The following subsectors have a very high probability of success:  

  • Video surveillance system  
  • Intrusion detention/burglar alarm systems 
  • Electronic access control systems  
  • Door/entrance solutions  
  • Physical security  
  • Personal protection products 
  • IT security 
  • Scanning equipment 
  • Road and airport security 
  • Video security analytics 
  • Forensic software
  • Tracking devices 

Opportunities

The new government administration announced in 2019 a three phase security plan to fight gangs which includes funds to acquire equipment to increase the number of police and soldiers in the field to retake gang territory, block out communications in areas near prisons, and to tighten conditions for inmates at all the prisons.  The first phase of the plan has opened up business opportunities for meals ready to eat, bullet proof vests and helmets, boots and uniforms, and maintenance of helicopters. The second phase aimed to provide opportunities for at risk youth through technical training and improving living conditions.  For phase three, the Central American Bank for Integration approved a loan of USD109 million to obtain  technology, including: 

  • Cameras
  • Tactical drones
  • Biometric and facial recognition technology 

Cybersecurity is another area of opportunity, the country does not have an established national strategy or policy, but with the creation of the Technical and Innovation Secretariat technical assistance will be needed and coordinated by Technical Secretariat for other government entities including the Ministry of Justice and Security, and those responsible for cybersecurity.  The Technical Secretariat’s digital agenda includes the following information and telecommunication technology services and products: 

  • Digital identity. 
  • Reduction of digital gap
  • Centralized data center
  • Electronic commerce, signature, and electronic invoice implementation
  • Biometric passport
  • National registry of mobile phone numbers  

El Salvador’s private and public sector prefers U.S. products, services, and technologies. More efficient and sophisticated products, and training are always in demand.  The main buyer is the public sector; however, most acquisitions depend on loans from multilateral development banks or grants, and donations by contributor countries. 

Government purchases are channeled through Comprasal, an online portal for competitive bidding processes. All government purchases are regulated by the Acquisition and Purchasing Law (Ley de Adquisiciones y Contrataciones –LACAP), including direct purchases often announced for special projects and technology. 

Opportunities for residential security monitoring services and video surveillance systems are growing in a market where barbed wire, bars on windows and doors, and gated neighborhoods are prevalent.  

Monitoring and surveillance systems, as well as access control technology to manage visitors and parking is also growing for use at office buildings, apartment towers, and commercial centers.   

Web Resources 

IDB  

Central American Bank for Economic Integration 

Council of the Americas  

Official Salvadoran Government Procurement website  

Ministry of Defense of El Salvador  

National Civil Police  

Central America Economic Integration Secretariat  

Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador  

Oversees Security Advisor Council (OSAC)  

Import controlled products  

5% Tax on Telecommunication  

El Salvador Central Bank Trade Data 

 

U.S. Commercial Service Contact 

Maria Rivera, Senior Commercial Specialist, maria.rivera@trade.gov