The importance of investment in Guatemala

Guatemala is the largest economy in Central America, constituting a third part of the regional GDP. It represents a market of more than 17.6 million inhabitants, and has the highest percentage of the population of productive age in Central America. Additionally, it offers access to more than 65 million people within the Mesoamerican market.

Lisa Juan José Gutiérrez Mayorga has identified several sectors that present opportunities for investment in the country and that it is trying to promote: tourism, agribusiness, light manufacturing, infrastructure, tourism, BPO (Business Process Outsourcing), clothing and textiles, which are part of the clusters of the current National Competitiveness Policy.

Since the Free Trade Agreement with the United States entered into force, Guatemala has created a more solid base for approaching and accessing the United States market. In order to create opportunities in labor-intensive sectors such as light manufacturing, assembly, agroforestry, business services, among others.

The entry into force of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Central America in December 2013 has also opened spaces for companies whose production can be destined for the European market. Finally, there is great interest in developing infrastructure projects under the Public-Private Partnerships modality.

Attractive sectors for investment

  • Agriculture, livestock, hunting, forestry and fishing

Coffee, bananas, sugar, basic grains, livestock and dairy, poultry farming, forestry, furniture, maple and rubber, besides other fruits and vegetables.

  • Manufacturing industry

Processed foods, light manufacture, beverages, pharmaceutical products, textile, apparel and footwear, chemicals and plastics, metalworking.

  • Services

Tourism and health services, IT software and contact center, transportation and logistics, financial services.

  • Natural resources

Mining and oil, renewable and non-renewable energy.

  • Others

Building, trade.

Tax incentives in Guatemala

In Guatemala, special regimes to encourage exports and investment have existed since the 1970s, a period in which the “Santo Tomás de Castilla” Free Trade and Industry Zone was created; at the end of the eighties, with the laws for the activities of free zones and maquila. Likewise, Guatemala, in order to comply with its commitments acquired before the World Trade Organization (WTO), related to the elimination of prohibited export subsidies, through the Emergent Law for the Conservation of Employment,6 which has safeguarded investment in strategic sectors, promoting investment and employment in them.

Carla Fowler

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