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Central America

Central America

Trade relations between the EU and the Central American region are determined by an Association Agreement, signed in June 2012.  

This association agreement includes areas on trade, political dialogue, and cooperation.

It aims to support economic growth, democracy and political stability in Central America.

The Central American countries included are Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

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Trade picture

  • The main EU imports from Central America are vegetable products, foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco, optical and photographic instruments, animal or vegetable fats and oil.
  • The main EU exports to Central America are machinery and appliances, products of the chemical or allied industries, transport equipment, foodstuffs, beverages, and tobacco.
  • The EU and Central America annually exchange statistics for joint analysis since EU data tends to overestimate EU exports to Central America. This analysis can be found in the annual report of the Commission.

EU-Central America: Trade in goods

Trade in goods 2014-2016, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2014 6.2 5.2 -1.0
2015 5.2 5.7 0.5
2016 5.4 5.3 -0.1

Date of retrieval: 15/02/2017

More statistics on Central America

EU and Central America

The trade part of the association agreement has been provisionally applied at different times for different countries in the region:

  • Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama since August 2013
  • Costa Rica and El Salvador since October 2013  
  • Guatemala since December 2016

Highlights of the Agreement include:

  • elimination of most import tariffs
  • improved access to government procurement, services and investment markets
  • better conditions for trade through new rules on non-tariff barriers, competition, and intellectual property rights
  • a more predictable trade environment with a mediation mechanism for non-tariff barriers and a bilateral dispute settlement mechanism
  • strengthening regional integration, for example by setting up a single import duty for the whole region and using a single administrative document for customs
  • support for sustainable development, including the consultation of civil society stakeholders

The EU's trade policy for Central America is to increase and use bilateral trade to strengthen regional integration.

In effect, this means creating a customs union and economic integration in Central America. The EU supports this through its trade agreement and its trade-related technical cooperation programs.

This integration in turn attracts investment to the region and strengthen local businesses to compete internationally.

The trade part of the association agreement replaces the unilateral preferential access to the EU market granted to Central America under the EU's General Scheme of Preferences.

Trading with Central America