Guatemala - Country Commercial Guide
Selling to the Public Sector

Discusses the legal requirements for selling to the host government, including whether the government has agreed to abide by the WTO Government Procurement Agreement or is a party to a government procurement chapter in a U.S. FTA. Specifies areas where there are opportunities.

Last published date: 2020-07-28

Guatemala’s Government Procurement Law requires most government purchases over GTQ 900,000 (about $116,933) to be submitted for public competitive bidding. Any government acquisition of goods supplies or services that exceeds GTQ 90,000 (approximately $11,693) is subject to price quotation procedures, which also require public competition through Guatecompras.  Since March 2004, government entities are required to use Guatecompras, an Internet-based electronic system to track GoG procurement processes.  GoG entities must also comply with GoG procurement commitments under CAFTA-DR.   Tender proceedings are public in the Republic of Guatemala.  Any party or person can track the development of any tender process or tenders already awarded at www.guatecompras.gt.

It is advisable to any foreign company interested in engaging into a commercial relationship with an official or governmental entity to be associated with a local market participant.  Foreign companies can participate in any government procurement modality without a local business associate, but must show that the company has provisionally registered with the Mercantile Registry.  If the foreign company is awarded a public contract, it must demonstrate that it is properly registered to operate in the country through an authorized branch.  Although it is technically possible to provisionally register a company during the bidding process, in practice it is hard to complete the process before the deadline for submitting a bid.

Tender proceedings only can be excluded in expressly stipulated emergency cases in the Government Procurement Law.

Government procurements executed by one government administration are occasionally challenged, breached or unpaid by the subsequent administrationIn some of these cases, the Embassy of the United States of America can assist and service U.S. firms by encouraging the government to respect the legally binding executed agreements.

Guatemala is not a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.

U.S. companies bidding on Government tenders may also qualify for U.S. Government advocacy. A unit of the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, the Advocacy Center coordinates U.S. Government interagency advocacy efforts on behalf of U.S. exporters bidding on public sector contracts with international governments and government agencies. The Advocacy Center works closely with our network of the U.S. Commercial Service worldwide and inter-agency partners to ensure that exporters of U.S. products and services have the best possible chance of winning government contracts. Advocacy assistance can take many forms but often involves the U.S. Embassy or other U.S. Government agencies expressing support for the U.S. bidders directly to the foreign government. Consult Advocacy for Foreign Government Contracts for additional information.

Financing of Projects

A wide variety of sources of project financing are available in Guatemala, both from U.S. and international organizations. The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), EXIMBANK, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) are all involved in private sector projects in Guatemala and after CAFTA-DR implementation have shown interest in participating in more projects in the region. The International Finance Corporation (IFC-World Bank Group), the Multi-Lateral Investment Guaranty Agency (MIGA), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank are all active players in project finance in Guatemala, especially when projects coincide with these organizations’ priorities related to the implementation of Guatemala’s peace accords. The Central American Bank of Economic Integration (CABEI) continues to play an important role in many projects, especially those related to public services and infrastructure.