Identifies common practices to be aware of when selling in this market, e.g., whether all sales material need to be in the local language.
Guatemalan purchasing decisions are primarily based on price, service, and quality.
Direct sales by U.S. exporters to end-users, importers, wholesalers, and retailers are usually most successful when the product is well-known within the market, or when a limited number of large buyers exist. Direct sales are often supported by local advertising, sales promotion campaigns, technical or illustrative brochures, visits by salespeople, and in some cases, samples.
Sales via local agents and distributors are usually the most effective means of penetrating the market. The U.S. exporter appoints a person or firm, which in turn, either promotes sales on a commission basis or purchases the merchandise and re-sells it. End-users and retailers generally do not have the time or experience to import directly, which involves handling customs clearance.
If a U.S. firm signs a representation contract, it is important to know that such will be subject to the Agency, Distribution and Representation Law, contained in Congressional Decree No. 8-98, of February 4, 1998.
According to this law, in Article 290, there are five instances by which a contract may be cancelled;
- As a result of mutual consent
- As per expiration date, if indicated in the contract
- As per the local agent’s decision, as long as it provides three-month notice. In such case, the agent is subject to responding to all pending settlements according to the contract
- As per the principal’s decision, in which case it will be responsible for all damages to the agent, as a result of the termination
- As per fair cause, which includes all sorts of situations common to the termination of a commercial relationship
The law presents details on each situation. It is recommended that an attorney, other than the one representing the local firm, is consulted for the signing of these agreements.
Trade Promotion and Advertising
The Commercial Services office of the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City can provide guidance and assistance to U.S. firms seeking to enter or expand their presence in the Guatemalan market. The following trade associations can also provide guidance, information and/or assistance to companies planning trade promotion events, which may include product demonstrations, seminars, conferences, etc.
American Chamber of Commerce of Guatemala (AMCHAM)
Contact: Juan Pablo Carrasco, President
Web page: www.amchamguate.com
Cámara de Comercio de Guatemala (Guatemalan Chamber of Commerce)
Contact: Jorge Briz Abularach, President
Web page: www.ccg.com.gt
Cámara de Industria de Guatemala (Chamber of Industry)
Contact: Eduardo Alberto Girón Benford, President
Web page: www.industriaguate.com
Cámara Empresarial de Comercio y Servicios (Chamber of Commerce and Services)
Contact: Guillermo González , President
Web page: www.cecoms.org
Advertising in Guatemala is usually done through the local media, such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television. In recent years, the use of billboards displayed along highways has proliferated. In addition, web based advertising, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, are becoming more popular every day.
Emerging trends in Latin America show an exponential growth in the online audience. Mobile phones and tablets continue to account for the growth in online traffic. This shift in the digital media landscape has changed the way marketers are communicating. Digital marketing is now at the core of the marketing mix in Latin America where consumer insights and channel selection are essential to creating successful marketing strategies. There are local and international companies offering digital marketing campaigns tailored to different budgets and needs.
Firms interested in advertising in Guatemala may wish to contact the following association for guidance and referrals to Guatemalan advertising firms:
Unión Guatemalteca de Agencias de Publicidad - UGAP (Guatemalan Association of Advertising Agencies)
Contact: Carolina Ladd, Executive Director
Web page: www.ugap.com
The leading newspapers in Guatemala include the following:
Contact: Luis Enrique Solórzano, General Manager
Miguel Angel Méndez, Editorial Director
Web page: www.prensalibre.com
Contact: Rodolfo Móvil, Director
Web page: currently not available
Contact: Jorge Springmuhl, General Manager
Web page: www.nuestrodiario.com
Contact: Oscar Clemente Marroquín, Director
Web page: www.lahora.gt
The following are the major television channels in Guatemala:
Canal 3 de Televisión (Channel 3)
Contact: Fernando Villanueva, President
Web page: www.canal7.com.gt
Televisiete (Channel 7)
Contact: Fernando Villanueva, President
TELE ONCE (Channel 11)
Contact: Juan Carlos Gonzáles President
Web page: N/A
TRECEVISION (Channel 13)
Contact: Alfredo Brito, Editorial Director
Web page: N/A
GuateVision (Channel 25)
Contact: Ing. Guillermo Bendfeldt
Web page: www.guatevision.com
Contact: Karla Ortiz de Archila, General Manager
Web page: www.canalantigua.tv
To listen to Guatemalan radio on the Internet, visit www.surfmusic.de/country/guatemala.html
The following is a list of some of the major radio stations in Guatemala City:
Contact: Jaime Torres, General Manager , Luis Felipe Valenzuela, Director
Web page: www.emisorasunidas.com
Note: Emisoras Unidas is the largest radio network throughout Guatemala.
Contact: Fredy Azurdia Marroquín, General Manager
Web Page: www.radiomundial.com.gt
Contact: Arnulfo Agustín Guzman, Director
Web page: www.sonora.com.gt
Magazines and Business Journals:
Asociación de Gerentes de Guatemala
Contact: Mario Eduardo López Salguero, General Manager
Web page: www.agg.org.gt
Cámara de Industria de Guatemala
Contact: Félix Colindres, Editor General
Web page: www.revistaindustria.com
Cámara de Comercio de Guatemala
Contact: Jeannette Balcarcel
Web page: www.ccg.gt
Doing Business in Guatemala
American Chamber of Commerce of Guatemala
Contact: Brigitte Salazar, Publishing Department
Web page: www.amchamguate.com
Price is a very important decision factor for Guatemalan businesspeople when selecting a supplier of imported goods and services. Many Guatemalan businesspeople are accustomed to purchasing directly from foreign exporters, especially when they feel that the prices of locally available imported products or services are too high. In order to calculate the cost of a product or shipment, companies add up the following expenses:
a) Product F.O.B. cost
b) Product freight and/or transportation cost
c) Product insurance cost
d) Import duties
e) Value added tax, 12%
One of the most important purchasing decision factors for Guatemalan importers is after-sales service. U.S. firms, more than other foreign firms, generally have a reputation for providing good service and support. U.S. firms interested in penetrating the Guatemalan market should make a commitment to offer excellent service and support to their Guatemalan buyers, agents and distributors. This commitment to excellent service and support should also be made clear by the U.S. firm to its local agent or distributor. Poor or mediocre service often leads to lower sales. The Guatemalan business community is comparatively small and word travels quickly about local and foreign firms that offer poor service and support.
Although after-sales service is not included in the Commercial Code, many representatives, wholesalers and retailers also provide after-sales service and support.
This is particularly common with household appliances, electronic consumer goods, telecommunications and computer equipment, other electronic equipment and industrial machinery. There are no provisions in the law regarding product guarantees. However, most retailers provide some sort of guarantee that covers problems which occur under normal conditions of use.
Professional services involving lawyers, auditors, consultants, custom brokers, financial consultants, etc. can be very useful in instances such as preparation of agency and distribution agreements and are essential for the legal registration of a new company, registration of a patent or trademark, debt collection, property rights, power of attorney, and trade arbitration. As a matter of good business practice, U.S. businesspeople should not share the same attorney or auditors utilized by their local business associates. Please visit the following website: export.gov/guatemala/businessserviceproviders/index.asp to find a list of Business Service Providers.
The U.S. Government cannot recommend any attorney or professional.
The largest one, Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, and Financial Associations (CACIF), is the umbrella to eight chambers or associations that gather over 1,500 companies. The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) is also very active. All chambers accept U.S. companies as members.
These associations have an active role in advocating for rule of law, transparency, economic growth, trade, competitiveness and corporate social responsibility.
There are no significant limitations on selling U.S. products or services to the Guatemalan market, as long as the exporter or seller complies with the regulations and laws that apply to the specific product.