BLP’s summary of the most important regional news and opportunities offers an overview of the economic, social, and political landscape of Central America at just a click away.

Better financial figures and risk ratings will enable Costa Rica to boost Eurobond placement. The tax revenue reported by the country, which generated an improvement in risk ratings, and the positive signals to place money in the international market, enable us to foresee the successful placement of $1.5 billion Eurobonds. Costa Rica reported a primary balance for the first time in 17 years due to the implementation of the 2018 fiscal reform. It also achieved a reduction in debt to GDP of 4.2 percentage points. Click for more information

Free trade zone exports grew by 30% in February and became a primary motivator of the economy. Exports of goods have become one of the main boosters of the Costa Rican economy, a fact upon which both the Foreign Trade Promotion Agency (PROCOMER) and the Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR) agree. Data provided by the Bank show that foreign sales of the special regime (mainly Free Trade Zone) grew 29.5% last month, compared to February of the previous year. This increase is 13.2 percentage points more than the total growth of Costa Rica’s exports. Click for more information

Electric train for the whole GAM goes against the clock, but at great speed, promises new INCOFER chief. Instead of a single electric train line between Paraíso de Cartago and San José, The Government of Rodrigo Chaves now plans to build an electric train for the entire Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM). Álvaro Bermúdez, the new president of INCOFER, has set himself the goal of making decisions and taking the project to a point of no return. This is the only way to guarantee that the new president, starting in 2026, will not decide to discard all the studies carried out and start from scratch, as has been done in the past. Click for more information

CABEI approves $1 million to Costa Rica to carry out studies for the San José-San Ramón road project. The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) approved a Technical Cooperation for $1 million to its founding partner Costa Rica to launch an international bidding process and hire a consulting firm, in order to prepare the technical and operational optimization studies for the “San José-San Ramón National Route No. 1” project. This was announced by the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT) at a press conference, where it was explained that the results of the studies will be used to make the necessary adjustments to the project design in order to optimize the cost of tolls and obtain technical feasibility to adjust the design of the project, which covers 55 kilometers from the capital to the west of the country and through which it is estimated that 133,000 vehicles will travel daily by 2025. Click for more information

Digital nomads come to Costa Rica from 45 countries: which are the primary sources? Nomads from Nicaragua, the United States, and Canada are the ones who have taken the most advantage of the special residency category since the implementation last July of the regulations to the law to attract international remote workers and service providers. According to data from the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners (DGME), since the regulation of the law went into effect last March 8, they have approved 421 applications from 45 different countries, of which 393 correspond to title holders and the remaining 28 to dependent family members. Click for more information

El Salvador opens five new air routes to the United States. El Salvador will add five air routes to the 30 routes currently in operation. The destinations are Houston, Oakland, Miami, Orlando, and Boston, informed the president of the Autonomous Executive Port Commission (CEPA), Federico Anliker. These new air routes will be incorporated into the flight schedule for El Salvador’s International Airport in the next few days. Click for more information

Remittances grow 5.6%, but exports fall to the last February level. Households received $1.188 billion in remittances between January and February, $63 million more than a year ago. Remittances and exports, two of the main engines of the Salvadoran economy, closed with mixed results last February. The Central Reserve Bank (BCR) reports that merchandise shipments continued in negative territory and accumulated a drop of 4.3 %, while family income grew by 5.6%. Exports started the year with a 9.7% decrease in January to $582.9 million. Click for more information

El Salvador presents coffee and honey as exportable products to Qatar. El Salvador was represented at AgriteQ 2023, a space for companies to expose their bets in agriculture and agribusiness with potential export interest to Qatar. The Foreign Minister also presented the export opportunities that El Salvador has with Qatar to develop fisheries, ornamental plants, and vegetables. “In this fair, our country is making new sales and contacts to promote national products such as coffee, honey, and cocoa,” said the Minister. The Executive assured that sales and business contacts with cardamom and national cocoa are also being sought. Click for more information

El Salvador delivers reconstruction of Nejapa-Quezaltepeque-San Juan Opico highway. The head of the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT), Romeo Rodríguez Herrera, unveiled the rehabilitation of the Nejapa-Quezaltepeque-San Juan Opico highway, 17 kilometers long, which is already benefiting more than 156,300 inhabitants of the area and 30,000 drivers who travel along this vital route. The work is complementary to the Claudia Lars peripheral road, already completed, and to the overpass in San Juan Opico, which has been opened and is nearing completion. Click for more information

Guatemala wins a vote of confidence as a low-risk alternative. Banco Santander issued a report highlighting the selection of Guatemala as an alternative country for global financial markets due to its low fiscal risks, the recent opinion of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the credit rating improvement published by the international risk rating agency Fitch Ratings. The analysis highlights a clear divergence in the performance of high beta BB benchmark credits (a measure of volatility or systematic risk exhibited by an asset compared to the market as a whole), such as the Dominican Republic and Colombia, and lower beta illiquid credits, such as this nation and Paraguay. Click for more information

The maritime terminal specializing in containers APM could pass into the hands of the State, but the negotiation is still unclear. Economic agents from the logistics industry in Guatemala are waiting for what may happen with the APM Terminals Quetzal contract in case these facilities become part of those operated by Empresa Portuaria Quetzal (EPQ) at Escuintla. Official silence on possible agreements, lack of transparency, and legal decisions that have not yet been issued and therefore are unknown are generating fatigue in business operators, importers, and exporters, as they do not know what will happen with the loading and unloading of containers in the only port of the Guatemalan Pacific. Click for more information

Remittances grew 13.3 percent in the first two months of the year. The accumulated remittances from abroad by nationals, mainly those living in the United States, increased by 13.3 percent between January and February 2023, according to data from Banco de Guatemala (Banguat). In the period mentioned, remittances totaled $2.767 billion, which shows an increase of $324.2 million compared to the same period last year ($2.243 billion). In the first month, the amount was $1.386 billion, and in the second month, $1.381 billion. According to a study by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the three departments with the highest number of beneficiaries are Sacatepéquez, Guatemala, and Retalhuleu. Click for more information

Which are the most exported food and beverages from Guatemala? Exports from the Food and Beverage (A&B) sector grew by 18% in the second half of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, according to the Guatemalan Chamber of Food and Beverages (CGAB). The industry ships to 74 nations with foreign sales totaling $1.335 billion, surpassing the apparel, textile, cardamom, banana, coffee, sugar, and ferronickel industries. “The food and beverage sector contributes 6.5% of Guatemala’s GDP, generating 100,000 direct jobs, with more than 2,200 industries participating in the business,” said Enrique Lacs, executive director of the CGAB. Click for more information

Regional trade opportunity expands. More than 3,000 companies from Latin America and the Caribbean registered a total amount of $148 million in the commercialization of products and services from the agrifood sector since 2020 to date, informed the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA). Products promoted included processed foods, natural cotton fibers, fruits, vegetables, coffee, cocoa, basic grains, seeds, food preparations, healthy snacks, and packaging with support services for production, distribution, transportation, and logistics. Click for more information

Honduras increased exports of fruits and vegetables to the US by 47% in 2023. During the first two months of the year, Honduras’ export of fruits and vegetables to the United States increased by 47%, reported the National Federation of Farmers and Ranchers of Honduras (FENAGH), whose executive director, Guillermo Cerritos, indicated that the Secretariat of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) validated the information. The executive director noted that the Central American country maintains a primary place as an exporter of various fruits. Click for more information

Honduran tourism expects to generate $600 million in foreign currency. The vice-minister of the Secretariat of Tourism, Luis Chévez, foresees that in 2023, the country’s industry without chimneys could generate $600 million in foreign currency. Chévez stated that the Government is promoting tourism in alternative destinations, including rural areas such as La Esperanza, Gracias, Santa Rosa de Copán, Comayagua, and Lake Yojoa. Click for more information

Honduras purchased $221.1 million in fuel products in January 2023. Honduran fuel purchases totaled $221.1 million in January, 55.3% more than in the same month of 2022, due to the volatility of oil prices in the international market, informed the Central Bank of Honduras (BCH) on March 20. The average price of crude oil in January ($80.41 per barrel) was 3 % higher than in December 2022 ($78.07), while the value of refined fuel from the American Gulf in the first month ($101 per barrel) was 14.5 % higher than in January 2022 ($88.18). Click for more information

China represents 10.1% of Honduran imports. Agro exporters, producers, and economists see the opportunity to increase trade relations with China as positive, but there are several challenges that must be solved due to the customs requirements that this country demands from Honduran products. “It is a benefit that can be both ways. Honduras can increase its exports to China, which today is less than 1% of total Honduran exports, and this flow can be increased in coffee, bananas, fruits, even in goods and services of maritime origin,” explained economist Wilfredo Díaz to Tu Nota. For the economist, the main gains that Honduras can have, in addition to establishing diplomatic relations with China, is that it can encourage the flow of capital to Honduras from the Asian giant. Click for more information

Nicaragua reached 80 percent of electricity with renewable energy. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM), this percentage derives from 0.49 percent solar energy; 11.77 hydroelectric; 14.04 geothermal; 19.05 biomass; 22.60 wind, and 12.05 percent imports from the regional electricity market. In a report, the entity specified that electricity coverage in this Central American country is advancing steadily, reaching 99.27 percent last February and expecting to reach 99.29 by the end of March. The Nicaraguan entity referred to the normalization of settlements in the west and north of the country and added that in 2023 they intend to electrify more than six thousand homes with an investment of 22.8 million dollars financed by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration. Click for more information

Nicaragua collected $714.1 million from coffee exports in 2022. Nicaraguan coffee exports amounted to $714.1 million in 2022, 40.6% more than the $507.9 million of a year earlier, informed the president of the Central Bank of Nicaragua, Ovidio Reyes, on March 19. The volume of exports of this grain last year was 3.46 million quintals of coffee (45.45 kilos bags) more than in the previous harvest (2021) when they were 3.38 million quintals, said the official during an official ceremony. Coffee is Nicaragua’s second main export product, surpassed only by raw gold, which generated sales of $927.4 million in 2022, reported the Central Bank. Click for more information

Remittances totaled $647.6 million in the first two months of the year. According to data from the Central Bank of Nicaragua, of the total received in February, the highest flow of remittances came from the United States with 81.4 percent ($269.2 million), 7.9 percent from Costa Rica ($26.2 million) and 6.2 percent from Spain ($20.4 million). Official figures indicate that 1.2% came from Panama ($4.1 million) and 0.7 percent from Canada ($2.3 million). The five countries altogether accounted for 97.5 percent of the month’s total. Remittances have become, after exports, the second source of direct external income received by Nicaragua due to the massive increase in migration of Nicaraguans who have left to work in countries such as the United States and Costa Rica. Click for more information

Nicaragua’s exportable agricultural production is highlighted. The president of the Central Bank of Nicaragua (BCN), Ovidio Reyes, highlighted the exportable agriculture products of this country, which show a growth of 21.5 percent. According to the bulletin Informe Pastrán, the official indicated that certain products such as tobacco, peanuts, and cocoa show significant increases. Reyes referred to the increase in banana production in the 2021 cycle, when the harvest was equivalent to 940 million units, compared to March 2023, when the units harvested have already exceeded one million. Click for more information

Infrastructure commission opens the process of updating the digest on the energy and mining sector. On March 23, the Infrastructure and Public Services Commission opened the process of updating the Nicaraguan Legal Digest of the Energy and Mining Sector, which will be ready in June of this year. A spokesman averred that for this process, a series of work sessions will be held not only to incorporate the norms for the update but also to review each stage of this compendium in the compilation, analysis, and purging of the norms. Click for more information



Country Exchange rate (x USD) Basic passive rate in local currency Current monetary policy rate S&P sovereign debt indicator Moodys Sovereign Debt Indicator Fitch indicator
Costa Rica 539,39 6,69% 8,50% B+ B2 BB-
El Salvador 6,20% Not available CCC Caa3 CCC
Guatemala 7,80 1,75% 4,50% BB Ba1 BB-
Honduras 24,57 3,48% 3,00% BB- B1 No rating
Nicaragua 36,34 3,30% 7,00% B B3 B-


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