Domestic and Foreign Market Access

The Republic of Honduras is a lower-middle income country facing major challenges, with more than two thirds of the country’s population living in poverty, and around 46 per cent in extreme poverty. Honduras was ranked 78th out of 132 countries in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Enabling Trade Index (2012), which measures institutions, policies and services to facilitate trade in countries. The Honduran trade regime is very open. Globally the country’s exports are facing very good access to external markets. In turn the country is open to receiving imports; however, owing to a poor business environment (in particular, cumbersome and time-consuming bureaucratic regulations) and weak performance in key trade enabling infrastructure services, foreign trade activities are significantly hampered. The implementation of numerous free trade agreements in recent years is considered to have led to some modernization and liberalization of country’s trade and investment regimes.

Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2012, Honduras Country Profile

Trade Policy and Market Access

The Honduran trade regime is relatively open, with an average tariff rate of around 6 per cent in 2012 (relatively stable at this rate for over 10 years), modest use of non-tariff barriers and no use of contingency measures. Agricultural products are subject to an average tariff of 10.5 per cent, while the average tariff for non agricultural products was 5.0 per cent. The dairy products fall under comparably high average applied tariff of 22.5 per cent and some animal products come under high maximum tariff of 165 per cent. Honduras not only has free trade agreements with Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Taiwan and Panama, but also participates in the Central American Common Market (CACM) to which Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are other members. As a member of CACM, Honduras applies a common external tariff (CET) on most items at a maximum of 15 per cent with some exceptions. The CACM also concluded free trade agreements with the United States and the Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR) in 2004 and entered into a free trade agreement with the EU in 2011. The implementation of these free trade agreements has led to modernization and liberalization of the country’s trade and investment regimes. (WTO, 2012).

WTO, 2012, Trade Profile (Honduras)

Standard Compliance and Other Relevant Import/Export Restrictions

With regards to sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), the lack of capacity to meet various standards had hindered the development of exports. For example, in the livestock industry classical swine fever in the region is a significant constraint on exporters of pork. In March 2010 the Standards and Trade Development Facility began a new project aimed at improving the operation of the National SPS Committee in Honduras (WTO 2010). Moreover, with respect to technical regulation and standards, Honduras joins the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Pan American Commission for Technical Standards (COPANT). The CAFTA-DR provides that the regulations of trading partners shall be accepted as equivalent. Honduras refers to international standards when preparing or applying its standardization measures, insofar as they effectively or adequately help achieving its legitimate objectives.

WTO, 2010, Trade Policy Review (Honduras)