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: 2020-07-28

Overview

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 130,000 private security guards but only 40,000 active police officers.

However, there has been a marked decrease in the homicide rate, ending 2019 at 21.5 per 100,000 people. The country recorded 3,578 killings in 2019, down from 3,881 murders and a homicide rate of 22.4 in 2018.

The private security sector in Guatemala is growing fast; 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 215 companies offering private security
  • There are than 494,000 registered guns and approximately 1.5 million illegal guns in the country
  • An estimated 400 tons of cocaine is 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 & security industry, the same new threat that is growing in Latin America: Chinese interference and influence. 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. The Chinese offer strong financial assistance, in order 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.

 

2017

2018

2019

2020 estimated

Total Exports

23,744

25,243

25,863

26,360

Total Imports

623,574

634,657

635,551

634,122

Imports from the US

314,088

322,554

328,795

333,001

Exchange Rates

7.50

7.50

7.50

7.50

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 the 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 to 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.  Import taxes for these products range from 0 to 15 % and free duty entrance under CAFTA - DR, plus 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, in order 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.

Web Resources

· Secretariat for the Central American Economic Integration: www.sieca.int

· Guatemalan Government Purchasing Website: www.guatecompras.gt

· Guatemalan Security Association: https://www.facebook.com/gremialdeseguridad/

Information

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