Since the days of the Maya people, the textile industry has been a central part of the culture in what would eventually become Guatemala. In the early traditions, the people were taught at a young age how to create textiles from the fibers of plants. The fibers would be turned into yarn, which would then create amazing, colorful pieces that were offered in worship to the moon goddess Ix Chel.
In the past, that meant the textile industry was somewhat sacred. Today’s industry in Guatemala still practices some of the ancient techniques. Even during the colonial era, the traditions of making textiles were still handed down from one generation to the next. Half of the population still identifies themselves as being Maya.
Since 1947, Maya textiles have been regulated and protected at the state level. Weaving is promoted as an art form, receiving economic protections. It is considered to be the national product.
Interesting Guatemala Textile Industry Statistics
#1. In 2014, exports for the Guatemala textile industry increased by 8%, reaching a total value of $10.83 billion. Clothing accounted for 11% of the exports. (Fibre 2 Fashion)
#2. The textile industry currently contributes 4% of the country’s GDP each year. When industrial GDP is separated out from the main figure, textiles account for 19%. (Fibre 2 Fashion)
#3. Guatemala receives about 11% of its fiber from Asia for its textile industry, with India representing a 1% share. (Fibre 2 Fashion)
#4. 60% of the total fabric imports that Guatemala receives come from Asia each year, along with 33% of total yarn import volumes. India provides a 2% and a 14% share respectively with these items. (Fibre 2 Fashion)
#5. India imported more than $26 million in textile and apparel goods to Guatemala in 2016, which represents 5% of the total imports received. (Fibre 2 Fashion)
#6. There are about 150 apparel manufacturers currently operating within the Guatemala textile industry. Another 39 textile mills and 200 trimming and service companies are also part of the industry, along with 18 agents. (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry – FICCI)
#7. The textile industry in Guatemala generates about 90,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities on the average year. About 46% of the positions are held by women within the industry. (FICCI)
#8. Guatemala currently holds 12 active free trade agreements which support the textile industry. These agreements include nations such as Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Belize, and the United States. (FICCI)
#9. 79% of the exports for the textile industry in Guatemala are destined to reach the United States. 14% of the exports go to Central America, while 3% go to Mexico. (FICCI)
#10. 70% of the exports for the industry are in just 4 categories: cotton knit tops, synthetic trousers, synthetic knit tops, and miscellaneous knit tops. (FICCI)
#11. 31% of the yarn imports to the Guatemala textile industry come from the United States. (FICCI)
#12. 46% of the fabric imports to Guatemala originate in China. 22% of the imports originate from the United States. (FICCI)
#13. Trimmings that are imported by the industry originate most frequently from the U.S. as well. 38% of trimmings come from the United States, while 17% come from India, and another 14% originate in China. (FICCI)
#14. To integrate its supply chain, Guatemala is forced to import more than 34% of its raw materials each year. (FICCI)
#15. The total import value of textile-related products to Guatemala reaches $530 million per year. (FICCI)
#16. The value of traditional exports during 2016 for the textile industry totaled about $2.4 billion. Non-traditional exports were valued at $8.06 billion. (Vestex)
#17. More than 280 companies integrate within the supply chain provided by the Guatemala textile industry. 171 of those companies are apparel manufacturers. (Vestex)
#18. One of the largest components to Guatemala’s economy are remittances which are sent by migrants living outside the country. Migrants from the U.S. provide the largest share of remittances. These total an equivalent of 10.4% of the country’s GDP. (U.S. International Trade Administration)
#19. About $210 million in direct foreign investment has been received by the apparel industry since 2007. (Bank of Guatemala)
Guatemala Textile Industry Trends and Analysis
The textile industry in Guatemala has seen some challenges in recent years. Their economy has struggle, which has limited the viability of the highly profitable folk weaving opportunities. That has led to more women going back to the textile factories in search of work. It is a process that has helped the employment figures, but caused disruptions within the value chain.
More than $700 million in trade is expected from the Guatemala textile industry each year. Expansions of free trade agreements will help to distribute more textiles to neighboring countries. There will be continued opportunities to expand within the industry.
At the same time, Guatemala must begin to organize its infrastructure to reduce import levels if it hopes to eventually maximize its success. Central America imported $1.5 billion in clothing and related accessories in 2017, which was a 15% increase over the year before. Purchases from Chinese companies totaled $1.97 billion, which limits opportunities for growth.