Guatemala, Second Most Important Provider for Panama in the Region

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In recognition of the 5th anniversary of the Free Trade Agreement between Guatemala and Panama, the Department of Business Information and Market Intelligence INFOEXPORT of AGEXPORT, with support from the Department of Foreign Trade Administration of the Ministry of Economy, organized an event on June 26th, 2014, to inform the public about advances with regards to the business relationship in this five-year period.

The trade agreement between Panama and Guatemala entered into effect on June 20th, 2009, representing a great opportunity for Guatemalan export products and services. From that account, Guatemala provides a variety of products to the Panamanian market such as medicine, aluminum containers for aerosols, washing preparations, soap, food preparations, perfumes and eau de toilette and soft drinks.

Panama is a country that traditionally imports a variety of products, because it is dedicated to providing services rather than industry. That means it is a consumer society. Thus, supply and demand, free markets, open trade policies and a positive business environment allows people to obtain a variety of good quality products at affordable prices coupled with a significant percentage of the population having high purchasing power, says Beatriz Sanchez, Analyst of the Market Intelligence Unit of AGEXPORT.

Over the last 5 years exports from the Central American region to Panama increased by 8.59%, with Costa Rica as the most important exporter to that country, with a total growth of 11.21%. The second most important country in the region exporting to Panama was Guatemala with a rise in its trade volume of 5.25%. Meanwhile, the third, fourth and fifth, in that order, were El Salvador (1.89%), Nicaragua (23.46%) and Honduras (12.86%). The products that are most exported from Central American Common Market were pharmaceutical products, plastic materials and articles, food preparations, machinery, paper and paperboard, beverages and chemical products, among others.

Panama which represents the second most competitive economy in Latin America has become a hub for international transport of passengers and cargo. Additionally, according to the Doing Business ranking in 2014 Panama is the 55th country of 189 most easy to do business with, rising 6 places from last year, said Sanchez.

According to AGEXPORT executive, Panamanian households spend 29.4% on food, 17.7% on transportation, 8.8% on housing, 7.3% on clothing and footwear, and 4.3% on communications, among others. Up to April 2014, Guatemalan exports to the Central American country grew 7.6% versus the previous year, accumulating $ 84,977,800 in total sales with products such as pharmaceuticals, aluminum, detergents and soaps, and plastic products.

Panamanian consumer trends are showing greater concern for health, demanding organic products of food and cosmetic products with certifications such as Kosher and Halal, since there are significant Jewish and Arabic communities, said Sanchez.

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Marlene Martínez
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