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flag Guatemala Guatemala: Selling and Buying

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier

 

Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Main International Economic Cooperation
Guatemala is part of the FTAA: Free Trade Area of the Americas, as well as the Central-American Common Market 
Non Tariff Barriers
Guatemala's import regime is fairly liberal. All food industry products have to be registered with the Registration and Control of Foodstuff Department (Ministry of Health). The labeling has to mention all the ingredients, the registration number and the use by date.  Pharmaceutical products have to have a Ministry of Health "sanitary inscription" before they can be commercialized in Guatemala.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
5.8%


Customs Classification
Guatemala uses the Harmonized Customs System. The customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value. Customs is managed by the Ministry of Finance (Spanish only). Guatemala applies the Central American Tarif schedule (SAC) in the context of the Central America-European Union Agreement (Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua).  The SAC has set a customs ceiling of 15% and a minimum of 0%.  Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have more or less eliminated customs duties between their countries.  Industrial products and equipment goods not produced in the agreement countries are mostly taxed at 0%.  To find out about customs in Guatemala, refer to the Mininstry of Economy of Guatemala. (Spaninsh only with some documents available in English).
Import Procedures
Guatemala uses the Harmonized Customs System. The customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value. Customs is managed by the Ministry of Finance (Spanish only). Guatemala applies the Central American Tariff schedule (SAC) in the context of the Central America-European Union Agreement (Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua).  The SAC has set a customs ceiling of 15% and a minimum of 0%.  There is however, a certain amount of flexibility when applying the said agreements as much on the validity date of the harmonization as on the coverage. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have more or less eliminated customs duties between their countries.  Industrial products and equipment goods not produced in the agreement countries are mostly taxed at 0%.  To find out about customs in Guatemala, refer to the Ministry of Economy of Guatemala. (Spanish only for the documentation on SAC ).
Importing Samples
It is allowed to import samples which do not have commercial value. The importer has to show documentation on the product with a price estimate of the product.  When going through customs, the value of the sample will be determined and an import tax will be charged based on this value.  Refer to the importing samples documentation on the SAT (in Spanish) (in Spanish).
 
 
For Further Information
SAT (Superintendencia de administración tributaria). Guatemala customs information website (in Spanish)

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing Opportunities

Consumer Behavior
Guatemalan consumers are very brand-sensitive; American brands are especially held in high esteem.  They are sensitive to the purchase price but also to the after-sales service.  There is no specific law that imposes a requirement for the existence of an after sales service for the country's companies but they practically all have them.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
Guatemala has wide social and regional gaps.  The profile of the consumer varies a lot depending on whether he lives in a big town or in the countryside. His social class and income level define the manner of his spending.  Approximately 56% of the population is under the poverty line.
Consumers Associations
Diaco (in Spanish) , Consumer assistance (Spanish only)
Mineco , National quality system (Spanish only)
Main Advertising Agencies
Guatemalan Union of Publicity Agencies (Spanish only)

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Distributing a Product

Market Shares
La Fragua and Almacenes Paiz
Organizations in the Retail Sector
Association of Franchises (in Spanish)

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
The road network is in the middle of expansion. It is becoming modern and allowing for a much wider capacity of goods circulation: Of note is the price of fuel in Guatemala which is much cheaper.  The railroad network counts for only 800km of tracks and is highly inadequate. It is only used to move agricultural products towards the departure port:  The 5 main ports are: Santo Thomas de Castille for containers; Puerto Barrios on the Atlantic, Puerto San Jose for liquids, Puerto Quetzal for grains and Champerico for peaches.  Santo Thomas de Castillo is the most important port with regard to industrial merchandise volume.  Pueto Quetzal has the most modern equipment.  These two ports alone have a total of 80% of the maritime traffic.
Ports
National Port Commission of Guatemala
Airports
Guatemala Directorate of Civil Aviation (in Spanish)
Mundos Maya international airport (Stanta Elena)
Sea Transport Organizations
CPN - Guatemala
Ministry of transports
Air Transport Organizations
Ministry of Communication, Infrastructure and Housing (Spanish only)
Road Transport Organizations
Ministry of Transports.
Rail Transport Organizations
Ministry of Transports.

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
The Manufacturing industry represents 12.6% of the GDP. With the Central American Common Market and the FTAA, Guatemala has at its disposition an advantageous market which it makes good use of.  With the establishment of maquilas ("in-bond" industries), the maquiladoras sector has become one of the most important sectors for the country.
Guatemala also has a considerable and competitive chemical industry.
The other important sectors are: the cosmetic, paper, metal products, construction materials and crystal industries.

In conclusion, the production structure of the Guatemalan market is oligopolistic, which tends to be a handicap for competition but which has the advantage giving the investors a large choice and the country is not dependant on a single sector.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Catálogo de Alimentos y Bebidas - Food and beverage business directory in Guatemala.
All.biz - Guatemala - Directory of companies in Guatemala.
Deguate - Guatemala's online business directory.
Oportnidades de Negocios Guatemala - Business directory in Guatemala.
Yellow pages - Find a business in Guatemala.
 
 
Manufacturers Associations of the Main Industries
6 professional associations listed for Guatemala.
 
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Guatemala Chamber of Commerce (Spanish only)
Enterprises Federation
Micro-enterprise Development Foundation (Spanish only)
Vice-Ministry for the Development of Micro-enterprises (Spanish only)
GUATEFONDO Private Equity Fund for Guatemalan medium companies
 
 

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Last Updates: January 2015