Free Transit of People and Goods

A key factor in economies´competitiveness is the unrestricted movement of the available human and material resources, and this is where the customs integration of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador falls very short.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Jorge Cobas González
Director of CentralAmericaData.COM

10 years after the founding of CentralAmericaData.COM, we confirm our vision of Central America (including Panama) as an economic unit, despite national borders. Since then, we have set ourselves the task of providing information services on Central America as a whole, to Central American companies and those in the rest of the world with business interests in the region. 

This confirmation no longer comes from enjoying the achievements of our company and its consolidation as the first and most considered source of business and market information in Central America, but from seeing how goods and services are marketed naturally among Central American countries, although always facing the odious existence of customs and tariff distortions (which still remain) and other para-tariff barriers, all of which justify the existence of, and at the same time fuel, national bureaucracies.

The current process of real customs unification between Honduras and Guatemala - and now also El Salvador - is more than desirable, but it does not go far enough.  A true customs revolution consists in its total disappearance, which is what would really bring huge profits for economies so much in need of growth.

We know that the effective disappearance of customs offices is not desired and is very much feared by sectors, activities and companies who would suffer from the free transit of people and goods. They are those who benefit from the artificial barriers imposed by customs offices. They are those who, without being the most productive or the most efficient, earn undeserved profits at the expense of consumers. Yes. There would be suffering from these sectors that would then face more competition and would be forced to improve their processes, to be more efficient, to avoid dissapearing from the market.

Out of the efforts to overcome this suffering, along with the reduction of logistics costs and other advantages, would come the benefits of a real customs union for the whole economy. And from outside of Central America, the perspective of a unified market of more than 40 million consumers would represent a figure of great relevance for any investor casting their eyes towards the region.

We welcome the simplification of customs procedures between Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. But lets continue moving towards the free transit of people and goods throughout the entire isthmus. 

More on this topic

Which Countries are Opposed to the Customs Union?

September 2014

It is time for transparent information to be given on which Central American governments continue to obstruct the essential unification of border formalities.


The Council of Ministers for Economic Integration (Comieco) which met in Managua on September 4 and 5 ended, as always happens in these meetings with public officials, with a statement of good intentions including promises to "work on the standardization of procedures at border posts and a regional strategy for trade facilitation," objectives which have been stated often and which up to now are far from being realised.

Central American Customs Offices Hinder Trade

October 2013

From the border with Mexico up to Darien in Panama, customs offices are hindering trade and conspiring against the region's development.

According to the Corporation of Guatemalan Customs Agents (CAAG), delays suffered by transport carriers alone make goods 5% more expensive for Central American consumers. But added to this is 30% for sanitary and phytosanitary barriers and non-tariff measures that are applied in each country.

Regional Bureaucracy Hinders Development

July 2013

The heavy bureaucracy present in Central American governments is obstructing the transport of goods, adding to regional trade costs.

In Guatemala, for example, the inefficiency in resolving issues and easily implementing procedures is self evident, as currently there are open files against 36,000 carriers, "something that no one can update, because of how cumbersome it would be to update this documentation , but the worst thing is that many of these records were wrongly documented because they correspond to breaches by vehicles which later went out of circulation ... " noted an editorial published by

Customs Still a Problem

February 2012

Instead of being reduced, bureaucracy at the Central American borders is becoming increasingly burdensome, complicating and making intra regional trade more expensive.

Constant delays which increase transportation costs, lack of progress in the streamlining of customs procedures and a perceived stagnation of the customs and economic integration project are the most pressing problems observed by business associations in Central America.

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