This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Guatemala continues to face security issues related to narcotics trafficking, organized crime, social disparity, and poverty. Most serious crimes are committed by local gangs.

An ineffective and insufficient police force along with a lack of prosecutions and convictions, make the country very insecure.
Over the past quarter century, the focus of security issues in Guatemala has shifted from the violence of civil conflict to higher levels of crime. Weak institutions, remote areas without state presence, and the country’s geographic position between the drug producing nations of South America, and consumers in the United States have made Guatemala a prime target for drug traffickers and other organized criminal groups.

Citizens have little confidence in the local law enforcement agencies. In regards to this country-wide sentiment, in 2007, the Guatemalan government made progress in addressing corrupt impunity, with the help of the United Nations Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). However in August 2018, amongst illegal finance campaign alligations, President Jimmy Morales notified the United Nations that he will not extend the agreement and therefore CICIG concluded their term in August 2019.  

Companies and individual citizens recognize the inability of the police to protect private property rights and this has led many to take security into their own hands. Guatemala has seen an increase in hired private security and demand for security systems.  The country has 130,000 private guards but only 34,000 active police officers.

Guatemala continued to show marked improvements in its homicide rate, ending the year at 22.4 per 100,000 people. The country recorded 3,881 killings in 2018, down from 4,409 murders and a homicide rate of 26.1 in 2017, according to government officials.

The private security sector in Guatemala is growing fast; approximately ten to twelve percent of a typical company’s budget is invested in private security. The Northern triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have the largest concentration of private security firms in the region.

According to security statistics in Guatemala:

  • There are currently more than 215 companies offering private security

  • More than 487,000 registered guns and approximately 1.5 million illegal guns in the country

  • An estimated 400 tons of cocaine is smuggled through Guatemala every year

  • The cost of a patrol to accompany a trailer from a port to the capital starts at USD150, an additional custodian guard costs USD87.  Placing a satellite chip in a trailer truck costs USD700 and a monthly payment of USD40 for the maintenance of the service

A new challenge has emerged in the Safety & Security industry, the same new threat that is hoovering in Latin America, Chinese interference. China’s Government presence is widely known as they are supporting all major Chinese manufacturers of cameras, video recorders and other security equipment by giving tax benefits, exemptions and unlimited financing for security projects overseas.

This not only affects the private market, in which they have very low-cost products but also for Government procurement. The Chinese Government gives strong financial assistance, so they can secure contracts around the world and Guatemala is no exception.

According to local experts, the business practices are hurting Chinese brands as well. Chinese manufacturers / brands are not loyal to their long-standing distributors in the region.  If they can sell more product to a new distributor in the country, they will do so and not inform their current distributor.

Due to this business strategy, they have cannibalized the market and prices are in an all-time low; therefore, distributors are not making profits as they used to. As stated by several distributors of Chinese products in Guatemala, the ROI no longer exists and the Chinese business ethics that have been imposed on them will probably affect them in the long run.






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Units: $ thousands             
Source: SIECA Guatemala

Leading Sub-Sectors
U.S. products have 50 percent of market share.  Most of the well-known brand companies from the U.S. have a distributor or agent locally and offer training, installation and after-sales service.

CCTV cameras have gained immense popularity across the country with diverse application segments, projecting high growth in the upcoming years. The growing use of CCTV in schools, hospitals, streets and retail sector is expected to ensure the development of the market in the country.  

Best prospects for products and services in the security and safety sector include:

  • Tracking devices

  • CCTV

  • GPS and RFID technology

  • Token

  • Metal detectors (manual and arc type)

  • Biometrics

  • Perimeter security

  • Alarms

  • Access control equipment

  • Armored vehicles

  • Drones

Personal security products, protection products and high-tech solutions and services have the most significant opportunities. All security products are imported since there is no local production.  Import taxes for these products range from 0 to 15 percent and free duty entrance under CAFTA - DR, plus the VAT of 12 percent.

CS Guatemala is in constant contact with security and safety equipment importers as well as the Security Chamber of Guatemala, to keep track of market trends, and importers interested in U.S. made products. CS promotes and sends a delegation of importers each year to the ISC Expo and to ASIS International Expo.

Web Resources
Secretariat for the Central American Economic Integration:
Guatemalan Government Purchasing Website:
Guatemalan Security Association:

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Guatemala Safety and Security Trade Development and Promotion