Thursday, March 5, 2009

Vigorous but Disorderly Commercial Development

Commercial and industrial growth in several communities in the country has progressed in a disorderly manner, say representatives of departmental branches of the Chamber of Commerce of Guatemala (CCG) and local authorities, which seek consensus on how to achieve more organization.

For example, Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango, Coban, Alta Verapaz and Petén, represented by San Benito, Santa Elena and Flores, Teculután, Zacapa and Chiquimula are sufficient to generate thousands of jobs, with 85 malls, 34 markets, 232 bank branches, 29,296 formal businesses..

"The most pressing task is to ensure that Guatemala boldly address the challenges of development and globalization," said a businessman from the South Coast. Their thinking is shared by retailers committed to strengthening commercial development.

The mayor of Xelajú, Rolando Barrientos said that the city's economy rose 4.2 percent after having built two mega-malls, creating 500 new jobs. "If companies come to Quetzaltenango, it's because we have become a good market," he said. Economist Dennis Rodas, described that city as "the economic elite of the West but it must rethink its future as the development grows in a disorderly manner."

That same is true in Huehuetenango, to the extent that neither branch of the CCG nor the authorities have any idea how many businesses are operating in the departmental capitals.

However, a random survey of at least 37 banks, 15 commercial centers and markets indicated that the commercial growth that has taken place in the city of Cuchumatanes occurred in the last two decades.

The manufacturing industry in this district is mainly comprised (90 percent) of companies that employ just one to five people.

Meanwhile, the capital of the department of Chimaltenango has become the commercial gateway to the West and has become one of the most important in the country in terms of investment and trade. Over 4,500 formal businesses operate there with 11 malls and 24 banks.

Carlos Osorio, of the local chamber of commerce, said that the economic boom began here about five years ago but growth has been disorganized. The mayor, Belarmino Montufar, feared future problems and lack of essential public services.

The South Coast is an important area for Guatemala with commercial, industrial, and agribusiness development that has occurred in recent decades. But in the case of the capital of the department of Escuintla, the takeoff has not been commensurate with its annual population growth of 2.5 percent. The unemployment rate is 5.91 percent compared with 2.5 percent of jobs created there each year, according to the National Institute of Statistics. This however has not been an impediment to strengthening of economic and trade development. The emergence of large centers of commerce, agro-industries, and various companies shows that.

In Suchitepéquez, Mazatenango, business center of the South Coast, there are 17 banks, farms, markets, 10 malls, construction, medical services, hotels, and restaurants, among others," said Felipe López, president of CCG. "Much of this development is the work of traders who came from other departments," said John Ciani, of Suchitepéquez.

In Eastern Guatemala, in Chiquimula, economic growth has produced 11 malls and over 4,000 formal and informal businesses. Governor, Carlos Moscoso said that the move is beneficial for the people and acknowledged that it has been aided by the presence of investors in Jutiapa, Zacapa, and Izabal. Edy Leon, with the CCG, said that the transit of Salvadoreans and Hondurans has strengthened trade in Chiquimula.

For 30 years, Teculután, Zacapa, has experienced an unprecedented economic explosion. At present, the municipality has more than 200,000 businesses, 35 companies, and 15 shopping centers, not to mention industries, hotels and car distributors. Mayor Carlos Chacón explained that Teculután is a special place because industry has provided employment to hundreds of teculutecos and other residents of nearby communities, even as far as Chiquimula and El Progreso.

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