Scoping study for UK business opportunities in Guatemala and El Salvador

In March 2012, the Caribbean Council undertook a scoping study of UK business opportunities in Guatemala and El Salvador on behalf of the British Embassy in Guatemala.

The scoping study was funded by the FCO Commercial Diplomacy Fund and seeks to raise awareness among British companies about the opportunities which exist and provide them with key contacts in a variety of public and private sector organisations which can help them to take new business initiatives forward.

The scoping mission sought to achieve the following objectives:

  • Identify clearly the key opportunities for UK firms in the following defined sectors:

a)    Construction/infrastructure

b)    Renewable energy

c)     Mining

d)    Agribusiness

e)    Retail fashion

  • Identify partners in Guatemala and El Salvador which are potential investors in the UK or partners for UK investors in-country
  • Explore with Government and the private sector where they see opportunity for both sides from the EU-Central American Association Agreement
  • Answer concerns about general security/ juridical security /investment etc.
  • Explore ways to create a private sector mechanism for supporting UK-Central American trade and investment

Summary of Key Findings

This report finds that there is enormous potential for UK companies to sell products and services, and to invest in Guatemala and El Salvador.

In common with much of Latin America, Guatemala and El Salvador are enjoying a period of steady growth and stability.  Neither country is a commodity producer and so growth has not been sky-high like Brazil or Peru but their highly diversified economies are still growing at rates exceeding 3% per annum and this growth will not be affected significantly by sharp changes in commodities prices.

Both countries are outward-looking and wish to diversify away from their import and exports being overly dominated by trade with the United States.  They are increasingly looking towards integrating economically with each other, with partners in the region (SIECA), and with other Latin American countries.  They are also interested in building new business links with Europe and they see the new EU-Central America free trade agreement (Association Agreement) as an important ingredient to achieving this.