flag El Salvador El Salvador: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

El Salvador is open to international trade, which represents around 87% of GDP (World Bank, latest data available). Trade has been supported by the privatization of most sectors, as well as by the promotion of the country's textile production, tourism, and international port services. However, El Salvador relies on the U.S. for foreign trade, making their situation somewhat volatile. The country's main exports include t-shirts, singlets, and other vests (11.5%), jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, waistcoats (7.4%), articles for the conveyance or packaging of goods (4.4%), electrical capacitors (3.7%), and cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose (3.2%); whereas imports are led by petroleum oils (12.4%), petroleum gas (3.1%), medicaments (2.8%), telephone sets (2.2%), and motor cars (1.9% - data Comtrade 2022).

The country's main export partners are the United States (39.2%), Guatemala (17.1%), Honduras (16.7%), Nicaragua (7.0%), Costa Rica (4.3%), and Mexico (2.7%), with imports coming chiefly from the United States (29.8%), China (16.6%), Guatemala (9.9%), Mexico (8.2%), and Honduras (5.6% - data Comtrade 2022). El Salvador has very few trade barriers affecting the export of products manufactured in the country, but there are some barriers in services. The Government actively promotes exports from the country's small and medium-sized enterprises. The country is a CACM member and has trade agreements with the EU, Mexico, Colombia, Taiwan, Panama, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

El Salvador has a structurally negative trade balance: in 2022, it exported USD 7.1 billion worth of goods, while imports reached USD 17.1 billion. Concerning the trade of services, imports amounted to USD 2.7 billion, while exports totaled USD 4.4 billion (data WTO). The World Bank estimated the country’s trade deficit to account for roughly 24.4% of GDP in 2022. According to the National Bank, in 2023, exports amounted to USD 6,498.1 million, marking a decrease of 8.7% (equivalent to -USD 617.0 million) compared to 2022. However, in volume terms, exports experienced a modest increase of 1.8%. Meanwhile, total imports at the close of 2023 reached USD 15,648.3 million, reflecting a year-on-year decline of 8.5%, amounting to USD 1,459.7 million. Despite this reduction, imports saw a volume growth of 2.3%.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 11,6029,88814,61717,10815,648
Exports of Goods (million USD) 5,9054,8056,3957,1156,498
Imports of Services (million USD) 2,0121,4532,2992,7782,623
Exports of Services (million USD) 3,3092,1543,1794,4065,161
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4-15291n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 8-252910n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -5,709-5,025-8,009-9,569n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 76668187n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 46425256n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 30242831n/a

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
United States 39.2%
Guatemala 17.1%
Honduras 16.7%
Nicaragua 7.0%
Costa Rica 4.3%
See More Countries 15.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
United States 29.8%
China 16.6%
Guatemala 9.9%
Mexico 8.2%
Honduras 5.6%
See More Countries 29.8%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

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Main Products

7.1 bn USD of products exported in 2022
T-shirts, singlets and other vests, knitted or...T-shirts, singlets and other vests, knitted or crocheted 11.5%
Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, waistcoats and...Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, waistcoats and similar articles, knitted or crocheted (excl. wadded waistcoats) 7.4%
Articles for the conveyance or packaging of goods,...Articles for the conveyance or packaging of goods, of plastics; stoppers, lids, caps and other closures, of plastics 4.4%
Electrical capacitors, fixed, variable or...Electrical capacitors, fixed, variable or adjustable "pre-set"; parts thereof 3.7%
Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in...Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in solid form 3.2%
See More Products 69.7%
17.1 bn USD of products imported in 2022
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 12.4%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 3.1%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 2.8%
Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528) 2.2%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 1.9%
See More Products 77.6%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 

To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls

To go further, check out our service Import-Export Flows

 
 

Main Services

3.4 bn USD of services exported in 2022
54.73%
17.61%
8.45%
7.41%
5.03%
3.14%
1.99%
1.47%
0.18%
n/a%
2.5 bn USD of services imported in 2022
45.62%
22.76%
9.97%
6.86%
4.88%
4.58%
3.00%
1.22%
0.66%
0.29%
0.17%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs Duties

 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
International Economic Cooperation
Member of Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTTA)

Signatory of CAFTA-DR Trade Agreement

Member of Central American Common Market (CACM)

Member of Central America Four (CA-4)

Useful Resources
Directorate General of Customs
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
The National Center of Registries (in Spanish).
 
 
 

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Latest Update: May 2024

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