El Salvador - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Agreements

Describes trade agreements this country is a party to. Includes resources where U.S. companies can get information on how to take advantage of these agreements.

Last published date: 2020-09-30

In 1995, El Salvador joined the World Trade Organization.  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. For more information, see the CAFTA-DR Final Text.

The General Treaty for Central American Integration, signed December 13, 1960, created the Central American Common Market (CACM). After nearly two decades of inactivity, CACM was revived in the early 1990s. The five-member countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) have agreed on maximum tariffs harmonized 95% of tariff rates, mostly for industrial goods.

In 1999, El Salvador, together with Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, signed Free Trade Agreements with the Dominican Republic and Chile.  In 2002, the region concluded agreements with Panama and Mexico.  In 2007, El Salvador and Honduras signed a Free Trade Agreement with Taiwan, and the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) signed a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia.  In 2010, Central America signed an Association Agreement with the European Union that includes the establishment of a Free Trade Area; the Agreement entered into force in August 2013.  Central America also negotiated a Free Trade Agreement with Mexico, which entered into force in December 2011.  The Central American countries signed a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea in February 2018 was pending ratification. El Salvador signed a partial scope agreement with Cuba in 2011 that entered into force in 2012, and recently concluded negotiations of a partial scope agreement with Trinidad and Tobago and Ecuador.  El Salvador is also negotiating trade agreements with Bolivia, as well as renegotiating the trade agreement with Venezuela.

El Salvador’s Congress ratified the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement on February 4, 2016.

There is currently no date for the establishment of a complete Central American Customs Union.  There has been some progress on labeling standards, but 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 2017, El Salvador entered negotiations to join the Customs Union. In July 2018, after a period of 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”. Currently, the three countries are working on the operational phase of the Customs Union implementation. Coffee, sugar, and goods under different rules of origin in FTAs, and those with different tariffs have been excluded from the customs union. 

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.  These experts work with foreign governments to resolve problems and ensure that they receive the benefits of all U.S. trade agreements.  The TANC mission is to improve market access for U.S. workers, exporters, and investors and to seek compliance by foreign governments with U.S. trade agreements.

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 (click on “Report a Barrier”).  The TANC website also includes a checklist of common trade problems, texts of over 270 trade and related agreements, Exporter Guides with brief explanations of selected trade agreements, Market Access News, subscription to the weekly “What’s New” e-mail update on trade-related news, and information on WTO standards notifications via Notify U.S.: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Contact information for the TANC:

Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance Program

Office of Trade Negotiations and Compliance

U.S. Department of Commerce

14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20230

Tel: 202-482-1191

E-mail: tanc@trade.gov