Infrastructure market in Guatemala

Industry highlights

CAD $216 million

Canadian exports to Guatemala in 2021.

2.7 million

Jobs in Guatemala's infrastructure sector.


Infrastructure's contribution to Guatemala's GDP.

CAD $1.7 million

Government spending allocated to infrastructure in 2021.

Guatemala is Canada's largest bilateral trade partner in Central America. The Guatemalan economy is relatively stable and largely independent from the state. Guatemala is the largest economy in Central America in terms of population (estimated at 17 million in 2021) and economic activity (gross domestic product -GDP- of US$ 95 billion in 2022). The country has experienced stable growth (3.5 percent on average in 2010-19), supported by prudent fiscal and monetary management and an open economy (According to the WB).

The country is widely acknowledged for its macroeconomic stability, characterized by a steady 4% inflation rate and an average macroeconomic stability with a 3.4% growth rate over the past 8 years (BANGUAT). It stands out with some of the lowest inflation and growth volatility rates in Latin America.

Guatemala's geographic position is strategic. Located in the centre of the American continent, it borders the largest market in the world, the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). Additionally, the country boasts coastlines along both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, spanning 250 miles from coast to coast. Guatemala is also the leader in maritime cargo operations, accounting for 38% of the total throughput.

With 17.6 million people, Guatemala has the largest population in Central America. It counts 11.7 million people within the working-age bracket, and with 7.4 million individuals engaged in economic activities (INE). It also has the largest economy in the region, with an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of $95 billion and a strong GDP growth rate of 4.1% in 2022 (EIU, May 2022).

The Latin American infrastructure market is connected to the substantial demand for investment, which countries alone cannot meet. According to the 2021 IDB study: "The infrastructure gap in Latin America and the Caribbean: investment needed until 2030 to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals", Latin America needs to invest US$ 2,220,736 million by 2030 to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to infrastructure services. This situation occurs in an overly complex macroeconomic and fiscal context, with little space for purely public investment in infrastructure despite the needs, and which implies important actions to involve the private sector more efficiently and sustainably in the infrastructure sector.

The study estimates that Guatemala needs to invest US$ 48,200 million until 2030, divided into US$ 30,646 million for new infrastructure (64%) and US$ 17,554 million for the maintenance and replacement of the necessary infrastructure (36%). The estimated infrastructure gap is highly concentrated in water and sanitation (37%) and to a lesser extent in telecommunications (24%), transport (20%) and electricity (19%). To this, must be added the need for investment in social infrastructure sectors.

The Guatemalan government is focusing on:

  • creating jobs
  • promoting strategic investments (including foreign investments)
  • stimulating domestic, regional, and international demand for Guatemalan products

Key opportunities for Canadian infrastructure companies in Guatemala

  • Government centre (US$240 million) - P3
  • North-West road (US$180 million) - P3
  • International airport modernization (US$158 million) - P3
  • Urban train (US$930 million) - P3
  • A North-South toll road (US$80 million) - P3

Notable challenges for Canadian infrastructure companies in Guatemala

  • Lack of a free trade agreement (FTA) or a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) between Canada and Guatemala, including double taxation agreement.
  • Complex laws and regulations
  • Congress approval required for large infrastructure projects.
  • Excessive costs that negatively affect competitiveness and reduce gains from trade.

Guatemala's business landscape

Guatemala's economy proved its resilience during the shock of the pandemic and its aftermath. According to data published by the Banco de Guatemala, the merchandise trade deficit was US$16,469 million in July 2022, compared with a deficit of US$12,988 million in 2021.

The trade deficit narrowed in 2022 because of a rise in export receipts, which grew from 2021 by 15%, as export volumes grew as demand for agricultural products increased. Exports to the U.S. and Central American countries (Guatemala's main export destinations) improved as well.

Overall, exports are expected to remain stable and have growth in the year-on-year terms, while the exports sector is a highly active and innovative business group.

On a year-to-year basis, trade with Canada increased in 2022. Canadian exports to Guatemala increased by 12% (from US$172.7 million to US$193.3 million). Guatemalan exports to Canada also increased from US$517.4 million in 2021 to US$619.1 million in 2022 (up 18%).

This is consistent with the fundamentals of Guatemala's political economy, in which an economic downturn translates into a shrinking trade balance. In 2022, Guatemalan exports to Canada amounted to US$619.1 million, while Canada exported US$193.3 million in goods.

In 2013, the government established the National Agency for the Development of Partnerships in Infrastructure (ANADIE) to boost investment levels through public-private partnerships (P3). ANADIE is the country's specialized entity for structuring and procuring P3 infrastructure and transport projects. Health, education, and water are excluded from its mandate.

The quality of infrastructure in Guatemala has deteriorated in recent years, especially roads, ports, and airports. Frequent and recent natural disasters have inflicted additional damage to the country's infrastructure.

The private sector is promoting a general infrastructure law (VALO initiative #5431) to establish a proper mechanism for procuring infrastructure projects, currently under discussion in Congress.

ANADIE has identified and prioritized 5 projects valued at over $1.5 billion.

These projects are structured under a design, build, operate and transfer (DBOT) model, with long-term contracting with the state. The model will award the contract to the private entity that demonstrates financial capacity and international experience in P3s, meets national and international standards, and provides the highest return to the state.


Guatemala has high potential for attracting investment through open policies, macroeconomic stability, and a sizeable domestic market. Its favourable geographic position and the quality of the Guatemalan labour force also have significant potential for attracting Canadian companies for Guatemala's nearshoring opportunities.

Guatemala is committed to improving its infrastructure in various areas and is willing to see more Canadian companies developing those projects.

For more information on Infrastructure in the Guatemala market please contact Jennifer Chacón ( Trade Commissioner for the Infrastructure and Clean Technologies sectors in Guatemala.

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