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Central America

Central America

The EU and the Central American region concluded a new Association Agreement, signed on 29 June 2012.  The Association Agreement relies on three complementary and equally important pillars, namely political dialogue, cooperation, and trade which reinforce each other and their effects.  These are the right tools to support economic growth, democracy and political stability in Central America.

The trade pillar of the Association Agreement has been provisionally applied since 1st August 2013 with Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, since 1st October 2013 with Costa Rica and El Salvador, and since 1 December with Guatemala.

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13 June 2018

Trade and Sustainable Development
EU –Central America Association Agreement

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According to EUROSTAT date, the trade flow between the EU and Central America has amounts to EUR 10.7 billion in 2016.The EU's trade balance with Central America presents a deficit amounted to EUR 0.13 billion in 2016 (the year before there was a surplus of EUR 0.5 billion).

EU exports to Central America have decreased by 7.8% in 2016. This could be mainly explained by exports of Products of the chemical or allied industries and Transport equipment which decreased 7.3% and 36.1% respectively.

The main EU imports from Central America by HS section are, by order of importance: Vegetable products; Foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco; Optical and photographic instruments, etc.;, Animal or vegetable fats and oils.

The main EU exports to Central America by HS section are, by order of importance: Machinery and appliances, Products of the chemical or allied industries,, Transport equipment, Foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco.

The EU and Central America are exchanging annually their respective statistics to elaborate a joint analysis, as given the importance of the Panamanian Trade Free Zone (the second in the world), EUROSTAT data tends to overestimate EU exports to Central America. We recommend consulting the Annual Report of the Commission for detailed analysis.

EU-Central America: Trade in goods

Trade in goods 2016-2018, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2016 5.5 5.3 -0.2
2017 6.1 5.4 -0.7
2018 6.2 6.0 -0.1

Date of retrieval: 17/04/2019

More statistics on Central America

Exporter stories

See how the EU-Costa Rica trade agreement benefits companies and communities across the EU

Read the exporters' stories

EU and Central America

Central America countries:

The EU and Central America has maintained close and comprehensive relations for decades, reaching back to the EU’s support to the regions successful peace process in the 1980s.

The EU’s central trade policy objective for Central America are to increase bilateral trade and use it 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 cooperation programs.

This new agreement aims at fostering sustainable development and deepening their process of regional integration. 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 trade part of the Association Agreement will replace the unilateral preferential access to its market which was granted to Central America under the EU’s General Scheme of Preferences.

Association Committee and sub-committees

The EU and Central America meet annually to discuss issues and best practices related the implementation of the Association Agreement.

The most recent meeting of the Association Committee and sub-committees was held in Antigua, Guatemala between 18th and 27th June 2019.

Association Committee

  • 27  June 2019, Agenda (ES, EN); Report (EN, ES); Joint Communique (ES, EN)


Market access

Customs and rules of origin

Sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS)

  • 18-19 June 2019: Agenda, minutes (EN, ES), Annex: MRL declaration (EN, ES)

Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)

Intellectual Property Rights

Public Procurement

  • 21 June 2019 via videoconference: Agenda, minutes (EN)

The Board on Trade and Sustainable Development

Trading with Central America