Central America’s top 10 exports

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By LatAm Reports Staff Writers

Central America is the fifth largest economy in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to World Bank data as of 2023.

The figures for its trade show that this subregion exported goods totalling $46,583.6 million during 2022, according to the latest report on the current state of Central American integration, prepared by the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA).

Of the total goods exported, $13,759.5 million (29.5%) correspond to trade with the same Central American subregion; while the rest, $32,824.1 million (70.5%), correspond to extraregional sales, as broken down by the published report.

High sales

As far as exports of goods are concerned, there are 10 star products: 

  • coffee
  • bananas
  • copper minerals
  • palm oil
  • sugar
  • pineapples
  • avocados
  • mangoes
  • guava and mangostanes
  • raw gold

Costa Rica is an undisputed leader in the export of three of these 10 products: it is the country that exports 100% of the medical instruments, it also exports 100% of orthopedic products and 93% of pineapple and other tropical fruits.

In 2022, Costa Rica was the main exporter of the subregion with sales of $13,143.7 million.

Coffee is exported by all Central American countries, but the largest participation is made by Honduras with 37%, Guatemala follows with 29% of the cake, then there is Nicaragua with 19%, Costa Rica contributes 10% and El Salvador only 5%. The main exporters of bananas and bananas are three: Guatemala with 37%, followed by Costa Rica with 36% of sales and Honduras with 22%.

Panama has 100 per cent of the exports of copper and concentrate minerals; 87 per cent of the gold exported by the isthmus comes from Nicaragua.

Sugar exports are led by Guatemala with 57% of sales; second is El Salvador with 16%, Nicaragua has a 12% stake and Costa Rica 8%, Honduras occupies last place with 5%.

Guatemala is also the largest exporter of palm oil with 50% of the total, Honduras is the second exporter with 32% and Costa Rica is the third with 14%.

The SIECA report highlights the United States as the main trading partner in Central America, as the country receives 32.1% of its exports; then trade with itself as a bloc is extremely relevant, accounting for 29.5% of the total.

The third trading partner is the European Union, an economic bloc that receives 14.4% of Central American goods; China has 3.8%; and Mexico has 3%.

Among other data, Central America stands out as the world’s largest exporter of pineapple, the world’s second largest exporter of bananas, the third largest exporter of coffee and fourth exporter of sugar globally.It is also the largest exporter of cardamom in the world, according to the SIECA report.


The SIECA report also reveals that in 2022 Central America exported $38,734.3 million in services. By adding this paragraph, total exports from the subregion reached $85,317.9 million in 2022.

Meanwhile, Central America imported goods in the amount of $104.560.1 million and services totalling $23,471.9 million, giving a total amount of $128,032 million in purchases.
With the latter results, the balance of the trade balance is negative for the isthmus: $85,317.9 million in exports of goods and services versus $128,032 million in imports of goods and services.

Central America imports petroleum products, petroleum gas, medicines, cars, corn, cell phones, among others.

The places of which matters are: the United States (32.5%), China (15.1%), Central America (12.7%), Mexico (7.5%) and the European Union (7.3%).

For the second consecutive year, after the covid pandemic, Central American trade reflects positive performance, despite the disruptions caused by inflation in the major world economies, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and international geopolitical tensions, said Francisco Lima Mena, Secretary General of SIECA, in the presentation of the report, referring to the results of 2022.

“We hope that this information will contribute to the knowledge of Central America as a region of opportunity,” the official said.

This article has been translated after first appearing in La Prensa Grafica