Countries and regions
Central America includes Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
In June 2012 the EU signed an ambitious and comprehensive Trade Agreement with Central America. Once fully implemented, it will open up markets on both sides as well as increase the stability and predictability of the trading environment.
For the last decade the EU's share in Central American trade has remained largely stable at 8.1% in 2010. Historically the bulk of most Central America countries trade is with the USA and Latin America, and it is only recently that the region has actively sought to increase its trade with Europe.
- EU imports from Central America are dominated by office and telecommunication equipment (53.9%) and agricultural products (34.8% in 2010).
- The most important exports from the EU to Central America are machinery and transport equipment (48.2%) and chemicals (12.3%).
EU-Central America "trade in goods" statistics
|Year||EU imports||EU exports||Balance|
EU and Central America
Benefits of the Agreement:
- Elimination of most import tariffs. EU exporters expected to save €87 million annually in lower customs duties
- improved access to government procurement, services and investment markets
- better conditions for trade through new disciplines on non-tariff barriers to market access, competition, and intellectual property rights
- a more predictable environment for trade 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 central economic policy objective for Central America is to strengthen the process of regional integration between the region's countries. In practical terms this means the creation of a customs union and economic integration in Central America. The EU has supported this process through its trade agreement and its trade-related technical assistance in the region.
The EU and the Central American region concluded a new Association Agreement in 2011 and signed it in 2012. This new agreement aims at fostering sustainable development and deepening their process of regional integration and includes a major trade pillar. This closer economic integration between the countries of the Central American region is important for attracting investment to the region and helping local businesses develop the strength in their regional market to compete internationally.
The text of the Trade Agreement will now follow the process of translation, signature and adoption according to each Party's domestic procedures.
The EU grants all Central American countries preferential access to its market under the EU's General Scheme of Preferences and particularly, the special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance, known as GSP+).
Trading with Central America
- Rules and requirements for trading with the countries of Central America
- The EU is present on the ground in Central America (+ Delegations in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama)
- Trade relations are part of the EU's overall political and economic relations with Central America
- Central America organisation