GATEWAY TO THE NEW WORLD'S ECONOMIC FRONTIER
With the approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Guatemala is now right next door to the world's largest economic block. The Government of Guatemala, anticipating passage of the agreement, initiated a series of reforms aimed at eliminating protectionism barriers.
Signed an agreement establishing the Central American Economic Block. This agreement aligns the region's macroeconomic policies, reduces tariffs, promotes exports and helps to attract foreign investment.
The Government of Guatemala has also taken steps to streamline procedures to encourage foreign investment by creating the "one stop investment window" to simplify the process of setting up a business in the country. Both the government and private sector are strong advocates of free market principles, and committed to attracting foreign investment and facilitating trade.
Additionally, Guatemala has signed agreements with international monetary institutions to strengthen government programs dealing with the Guatemalan economy and to carry out an economic modernization program.
GUATEMALA'S FOREMOST ASSET: ITS PEOPLE
With a population of nearly 10 million and a labor force exceeding 2.8 million--the largest in the Central American region--Guatemala has the best-trained and most diverse work force in the area. Agriculture continues to dominate the Guatemalan economy employing over half of the available labor force. The agricultural sector accounts for one quarter of the country's output and two thirds of all exports. Present trends point to an accelerated increase in the production of new or non-traditional agricultural export products, such as tropical fruits and vegetables.
Private investment drives the Guatemalan economy. Investment prospects are especially promising in the textile and apparel sectors, non-traditional agricultural products, shrimp farming, and tourism.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT
With the largest and fastest-growing GDP in Central America, at over 4% in 1993, Guatemala is firmly on the road to broadening its international markets and providing opportunities to world wide investment.
TRADE AND COMMERCE
The United States remains Guatemala's major trading partner, providing 45% of Guatemalan imports. Guatemalan imports from the United States reached US$1,172 million in 1993. Although manufacturing continues to feature light industry geared towards domestic and Central American markets, exports to industrial countries of apparel, textiles and other items are growing by almost 30% a year.
Telecommunications in Guatemala are managed by the government-owned GUATEL. Over 200,000 lines are currently available throughout the country. To ensure that Guatemala can compete in "quick response" international markets, GUATEL initiated an ambitious modernization program to upgrade and expand the national communications network. To this effect, over 250,000 additional lines will be available nationwide by 1994.
GUATEL also provides the Intelsat Business Service (IBS) and data communications for Packet Switching Network (Mayapac). Point-to-point direct access via satellite is also available. AT&T, MCI and US SPRINT offer direct dialing to the US through US-based operators.
The government-owned national railroad network, presently undergoing privatization, covers some 512 miles of narrow gauge track linking the ports on the Caribbean Coast with those on the Pacific. The main line also feeds to destinations on the Mexican and Salvadoran borders.
A total of 8,714 paved miles serve the country. The most traveled are the Inter-American Highway, which joins the Mexican and Salvadoran borders, the Inter-Ocean Highway, linking the ports on both coasts, and the Pacific Coastal Highway that runs across the Pacific coastal plain from Mexico to El Salvador.
La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City and Santa Elena International Airport near Tikal in the department of El Peten are Guatemala's two international airports. Fourteen international carriers provide service to La Aurora. Refurbishment of the runway at La Aurora was completed during 1993.
Located 62 miles south of Guatemala City on the Pacific Coast, Puerto Quetzal is the first multi-purpose port in Guatemala.
Puerto Quetzal is linked by railroad and highway with the two Guatemalan ports on the Caribbean Coast. Santo Tomas de Castilla handles the majority of Guatemala's freight movement. Puerto Barrios, operated by the private sector, handles the country's banana exports.
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