2009 Investment Climate Statement - Honduras

2009 Investment Climate Statement
Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs
February 2009

Openness to Foreign Investment

Honduras marked 26 years of unbroken civilian constitutional rule in 2008 with the holding of primary elections in November that were considered the most fair and free in Honduras’s history. The winners will compete in the general election in November 2009 to succeed President José Manuel “Mel” Zelaya of the Liberal Party, who was elected to a four-year term in November 2005. There is no re-election in Honduras.

Economic growth in 2006 and 2007 averaged more than 6 percent, led by the construction, agricultural and financial sectors. Remittances from Hondurans living in the United States, more than a fifth of Honduran GDP, have made a major contribution to domestic demand in recent years. However, the growth of remittances has slowed in the past two years and could become negative in 2009. GDP growth slowed to around 4 percent in 2008 and economic activity could deteriorate significantly in 2009 given the adverse international economic conditions.

U.S. exporters enjoy an enviable position in the Honduran market, and saw this position improve after the 2006 implementation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which was signed by the United States, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic in August 2004. Honduras was the second country to ratify CAFTA-DR, which entered into force for Honduras on April 1, 2006, one month following El Salvador and the United States. For U.S. goods destined for the Central American market, CAFTA-DR eliminates most tariffs and non-tariff barriers. It also provides protection for U.S. investments and intellectual property and creates more transparent rules and procedures for doing business. CAFTA-DR aims to eliminate inter-Central American tariffs and facilitate increased regional trade, benefiting U.S. companies manufacturing in Honduras.

The U.S. is the chief trading partner for Honduras, supplying 52 percent of Honduran imports and purchasing approximately 70 percent of Honduran exports. U.S. exports to Honduras in the first nine months of 2008 were $3.45 billion, up approximately 19 percent from the previous year. Honduran tariffs on most goods from outside the Central American Common Market (CACM) are currently within the zero to 15 percent range. With CAFTA-DR in effect, about 80 percent of U.S. goods can now enter the region duty-free, with tariffs on most of the remaining 20 percent to be phased out within 10 years. Nearly all textile and apparel goods that meet the Agreement's rules of origin became duty-free and quota-free immediately, promoting new opportunities for U.S. fiber, yarn, fabric, and apparel manufacturers. Honduras is the seventh largest exporter of apparel and textile products by volume to the U.S. market behind such countries as Mexico and China, and first among Central American and Caribbean countries.

The stock of U.S. investment in Honduras at the end of 2007, on an historical cost basis, was $968 million, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The United States continued to easily be the largest investor in Honduras in 2007, accounting for $578.5 million, or 53.8 percent, of the total inflow. The United Kingdom comes next at 13.8 percent, followed by Mexico at 13.5 percent.

According to the Central Bank of Honduras (BCH), the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Honduras in 2007 was $929.3 million, up 37.8 percent from $674.1 million in 2006. During 2007, Honduras was the third largest recipient of FDI flows in Central America, after Costa Rica and El Salvador. The BCH expects FDI inflow to top $1billion in 2008. Of the total FDI inflow, 23.6 percent ($219.6 million) is directed toward the export processing (maquila) sector. Canada is the largest foreign investor in the maquila sector, with 51.3 percent of the total inflow in 2007, followed by the United States at 37.2 percent and South Korea at 5 percent. Sectors receiving the highest amounts of FDI in 2008 were telecommunications, construction, and maquila firms.

The Honduran Government is generally open to foreign investment, with limited restrictions and performance requirements, although some U.S. investors have experienced unexpectedly extensive waiting periods for environmental permits and other regulatory and legislative approvals. U.S. companies tend to encounter problems most frequently investing in infrastructure and a few visible sectors, such as telecoms and energy. Domestic companies have been known to exercise political influence to keep foreign competitors out. Relatively low labor costs, proximity to the U.S. market, and Central America’s best Caribbean port (Puerto Cortés) make Honduras attractive to investors. At the same time, however, Honduras’s investment climate is hampered by high levels of crime, a weak judicial system, corruption, low educational levels and poor transportation and other infrastructure.

The Constitution of Honduras requires that all foreign investment complement, but not substitute for, national investment. However, CAFTA-DR, which has equal status in Honduras with the Constitution, requires national treatment and most favored nation treatment for U.S. investors in most sectors of the Honduran economy. Companies that wish to take advantage of the Agrarian Reform Law, engage in commercial fishing, forestry, or local transportation activities, serve as representatives, agents, or distributors for foreign companies, or operate radio and television stations must have Hondurans as majority owners.

The 1992 Investment Law, which still largely governs investment conditions in Honduras, guarantees national treatment to foreign private firms in Honduras, with only a few exceptions. The law does not limit foreign ownership of businesses, except for those specifically reserved for Honduran investors, i.e., small firms with capital less than 150,000 Lempiras (Lempiras). For all investments, at least 90 percent of a company’s labor force must be Honduran, and at least 85 percent of the payroll must be paid to Hondurans. The obligations of the CAFTA-DR Investment Chapter supersede the 1992 law, since under the Honduran Constitution international treaties are self-executing.

Additionally, government authorization is required for both foreign and domestic investors in the following areas:

  • Basic health services,
  • Telecommunications,
  • Generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity,
  • Air transport,
  • Fishing, hunting, and aquaculture,
  • Exploitation of forestry resources,
  • Investigation, exploration, and exploitation of mines, quarries, petroleum and related substances,
  • Agricultural and agro-industrial activities exceeding land tenancy limits established by the Agricultural Modernization Law of 1992 and the Land Reform Law of 1974,
  • Insurance and financial services, and
  • Private education services.

Under the Government Contracting Law, which entered into force in October 2001 and is based on the CAFTA-DR Government Procurement Chapter, all public contracts over one million Lempiras (about US $53,000) must be offered through public competitive bidding. Public contracts between 500,000 and 1 million Lempiras (US $26,000 - 53,000) can be offered through a closed bid, and contracts less than 500,000 Lempiras (US $26,000) are exempt from the bidding requirements. CAFTA-DR eliminated the former requirement that foreign firms act through a local agent (at least 51 percent Honduran-owned) to participate in public tenders.

CAFTA-DR requires fair and transparent procurement procedures, including advance notice of purchases and timely and effective bid review procedures. Under CAFTA-DR, U.S. suppliers are permitted to bid on procurements covered by the Agreement for most Honduran Government entities, including key ministries, on the same basis as Honduran suppliers. The anti-corruption provisions in the Agreement require each government to ensure that bribery in matters affecting trade and investment, including in government procurement, is treated as a criminal offense, or is subject to comparable penalties, under its law. Many question the ability or willingness of Honduras to investigate and prosecute these types of crimes. However, the bid process for an Inter-American Development Bank-funded computer system for the National Electric Company (ENEE), was voided in late 2008 due to improper notification procedures. At the same time, numerous government agencies, since entry into force of CAFTA-DR, have routinely declared “emergencies” to avoid competitive bidding procedures for public procurements, including for large infrastructure projects. Honduras is not a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.

The 1992 Investment Law requires that all local and foreign direct investment be registered with the Investment Office in the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Upon registration, an investor is issued an investment certificate, which provides investment protection under the law and guarantees investors’ international arbitration rights. These rights are further reinforced under CAFTA-DR.

In 2002, the Government of Honduras ratified a law on simplification of administrative procedures for establishing a company. Through this new legislation, the government has made significant improvements in streamlining procedures and eliminating administrative obstacles, reducing the time required for establishing an enterprise to an average of 21 days in 2007-2008, according to the 2009 World Bank Doing Business Index, compared with 62 in 2005. Foreign businesses setting up operations in Honduras are subject to the Commercial Code, which recognizes several types of mercantile organizations: individual ownership, general partnership, simple limited partnership, Limited Liability Company, corporation and joint stock company.

Management of Honduras’ four international airports was turned over to a consortium with majority U.S. investment in October 2000, the only major privatization effort in recent years. A dispute over the financing of certain projects that the consortium agreed to undertake soon developed, and the agreement between the consortium and the government was renegotiated in 2003 and approved by the Honduran Congress in February 2004. Controversy continues over the terms of this agreement, and U.S. investors divested from this consortium in 2005. The airports concession was acquired by Honduran investors, led by Grupo Terra, in late 2005.

In September 2003, the GOH opened the telecommunications market for sub-operators to provide services under contract with Hondutel, Honduras's state-owned telephone company. Under the new program, foreign and domestic carriers can register with Honduras' regulatory body, Conatel, as subcontractors for Hondutel fixed telephony services. Hondutel officially lost its monopoly on fixed-line telephony on December 25, 2005. This is a positive step towards the liberalization of the telecom sector; however, the process through which foreign companies can obtain licenses to provide long distance and international dialing has not yet been established. Legislation to liberalize and rationalize the telecommunications market has been under discussion for more than two years. As of December 2008, neither the comprehensive telecommunications reform bill nor the implementing regulations that would level the playing field for foreign investors had been passed by Congress. Currently, all sub-operators must obtain approval from Congress.

Cellular telephony services, however, are open to full private ownership. In 2006, Hondutel awarded itself the third of three cellular licenses on a noncompetitive basis. In January 2008 Digicel, a Jamaican-Irish company with impressive growth in the Caribbean and Central America, beat three other international firms to win a fourth cellular license with a bid of US$ 80 million. The company initiated service in Honduras in November 2008, with an aggressive marketing campaign, and was expected to invest more than US$ 400 million in infrastructure by the end of 2008..

Although most electricity generation in Honduras is in private hands, the National Electric Company (ENEE) retains a monopoly over transmission and distribution and controls most hydroelectric generation. ENEE has been losing money for years and by 2007 was effectively bankrupt. President Zelaya ordered the military to assume operational control of the company in early 2007, after creating a provisional “Intervention Committee” in mid 2006 with a mandate to repair the broken firm. ENEE was returned to civilian management, under the direction of Rixi Moncada, who was given the new title of Energy Minister, in 2008. But the Intervention Committee continues to govern the company. Rates were raised sharply in 2008, improving ENEE’s cash flow situation, and the GOH issued bonds to pay off its arrears to private power producers. But ENEE badly needs additional investment in transmission lines and other infrastructure, as well as to improve its collection and internal controls. In addition, new generating capacity needs to be added to avoid power rationing and rolling blackouts, as electricity demand is quickly overtaking supply. Emergency bids to supply 200 megawatts of coal-fired capacity encountered problems in late 2008. A contract to supply 100 MW of wind power was approved in October 2008, but the project will not likely produce any new energy supply until 2010. Many businesses are opting to install their own on-site power generation systems to supplement, back-up or substitute for power from ENEE.

The GOH is working to modernize Puerto Cortés, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency has paid for feasibility studies. The National Port Company (ENP) has ambitious plans to expand and modernize the port and has secured financing commitments from the Interamerican Development Bank and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration. But the project is proceeding slowly, and current ENP management is opposed to private participation or eventual privatization.

In 2005, Puerto Cortés became a member of the U.S. Government’s Container Security Initiative and Megaports Initiative and is currently authorized under the combined Secure Freight Initiative. It was the first port in the Western Hemisphere to qualify under both programs, which represents a major advantage for Honduras.

A law enacted in October 2003 grants municipalities the right to manage water distribution themselves, and, if they wish, to grant concessions to private enterprises. The law establishes a transition period of five years from its date of publication, after which the current national water service SANAA will be disbanded and exist only to provide technical assistance to the new service providers. To date, many of the water systems have not yet been transferred and, according to government sources, the period for completing this transition will be extended.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment commonly takes a year or more to issue environmental permits for U.S. and other investors. Delays are especially common in the mining, housing, and renewable energy sectors.

Foreign mining companies operating in Honduras have faced difficulties in recent years, including allegations of pollution and squatter invasions. Industry sources assert that all seven versions of a new Mining Law under consideration by the Honduran Congress would effectively tax mining firms out of existence. Whether any of these bills will pass, when, with what modifications, and whether the law would address only precious metals or all extractive industries is unknown. There is currently a moratorium against new mining concessions in Honduras.

In 2001, a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between the United States and Honduras entered into force. The treaty provides, among other things, for equal protection under the law for U.S. investors, with limited exceptions, and permits expropriation only in accordance with international legal standards and accompanied by adequate compensation. U.S. investors in Honduras also have the right to submit an investment dispute to binding international arbitration.

Under CAFTA-DR, U.S. investors enjoy, in almost all circumstances, the right to establish, acquire, and operate investments in Honduras on an equal footing with local investors. In the investment chapter of CAFTA-DR, Honduras committed to provide a higher level of protection for U.S. investors than under the 2001 BIT. Among the rights afforded to U.S. investors are due process protections and the right to receive a fair market value for property in the event of an expropriation. Investor rights will be backed by an effective, impartial procedure for dispute settlement that is fully transparent. Submissions to dispute panels and panel hearings are open to the public, and interested parties have the opportunity to submit their views. Despite patchy enforcement in practice, CAFTA-DR requires that all forms of investment be protected, including enterprises, debt, concessions, contracts, and intellectual property. Upon entry into force of the CAFTA-DR, the BIT was suspended. For a period of 10 years, however, U.S. investors may choose dispute settlement either under the BIT or CAFTA-DR.

The lack of judicial security and endemic corruption are major problems for investors in Honduras. Judicial processes are long and opaque, and property titles are frequently not respected. Honduras scored lower than all other CAFTA-DR countries except Nicaragua in the 2008 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index; with a score of 2.6 out of 10. In the 2009 World Bank Doing Business Index, Honduras placed 133 out of 181 countries, lower than all of its neighbors.

The impressive economic growth of the past four years – more than 6 percent a year – has begun to make inroads against endemic poverty in Honduras. But serious distortions in the employment market persist. Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America with a per-capita GDP in 2007 of US$1,635. About 38 percent of the workforce is considered either unemployed or underemployed. This does not include the roughly 1 million Hondurans who have emigrated – legally or illegally – to the United States in search of jobs or better economic opportunities. Personal security is a major concern in Honduras, with theft, pickpockets, and armed robberies occurring frequently in urban areas. Honduras also has a very high and rising incidence of murder and other violent crimes. The murder rate is roughly eight times that of the United States and is one of the highest in the hemisphere. American tourists and business people are not generally targeted for violent crime on the basis of their nationality, but many have fallen victim along with other residents of the country. Kidnappings for ransom increased significantly in 2008.

The Honduran Government has committed itself at least rhetorically to poverty alleviation and job creation. Official external debt forgiveness totaling roughly US$ 4 billion in recent years freed up considerable resources for anti-poverty programs. However, donors have expressed disappointment with the government’s execution of its anti-poverty strategy. Nonetheless, official household surveys indicated significant declines in measured poverty, especially “extreme” poverty, between 2005 and 2007. Results of the May 2008 survey were not yet available as of late December 2008 and may show some reversal of that trend. Unemployment and underemployment fell slightly from 2006 to 2007, but many firms announced layoffs in late 2008 in the wake of the global financial crisis, especially in export-processing (maquila) industries. Honduras signed a 5-year compact with the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corp. in 2005 that is to provide an additional US $215 million for anti-poverty programs through 2010. The bulk of the funds are being used for road construction and programs to boost incomes of small farmers.

On balance, however, Honduras enjoys relative political stability, a growing economy and proximity and preferential access to the U.S. market, all of which make it an attractive location for U.S. firms to do business.

Regional integration should spur investment, growth, trade and continued market opportunities for U.S. firms in coming years.

Conversion and Transfer Policies
The 1992 Investment Law guarantees foreign investors access to foreign currency needed to transfer funds associated with their investments in Honduras. This includes:

  • Imports of goods and services necessary to operate,
  • Payment of royalty fees, rents, annuities, and technical assistance, and
  • Remittance of dividends and capital repatriation.

The Central Bank uses an auction system to regulate the allocation of foreign exchange. New regulations were published on November 26, 2007, in Gaceta No. 31,467 (Reglamento para la Negociación Pública de Divisas en el Mercado Cambiario.) These establish the following:

  • The base price is established every 5 auctions according to the differential between the domestic inflation rate and the inflation rate of the main commercial partners of Honduras;
  • The procedure to determine the base price is set by the Central Bank’s Board of Directors;
  • The Board of Directors will establish through resolutions the exchange commission to be charged by the Central Bank and the exchange agencies in their foreign exchange transactions;
  • Individuals and corporate bodies can participate in the auction system for dollar purchases, either by themselves or through an exchange agency expressing the offered price in Lempiras with a maximum of four decimals. The offers cannot be less than USD $10,000 and more than USD $300,000 for individuals or more than USD $1,200,000 for corporations.

Additional information on the Central Bank’s auction system is available at http://www.bch.hn. To date, the U.S. Embassy in Honduras has not received complaints from individuals with regard to converting or transferring funds associated with investments.

In 2008 the Lempira held steady against the dollar at a rate of 18.8993 per 1.00 USD and the government was resisting IMF pressure to devalue the currency.

Expropriation and Compensation

The Honduran Government has the authority to expropriate property for purposes of land reform (usually related to a land invasion by farmer groups) or for public use. Disputes related to land seizure actions by the Honduran National Agrarian Institute (INA) are common for both Honduran and foreign landowners. U.S. citizens have experienced land disputes in particular in coastal regions. According to the National Agrarian Reform Law, idle land fit for farming can be expropriated and awarded to landless poor.

Generally, an INA expropriation case begins after squatters invade unprotected property. The squatters then file for the land with the INA under the Agrarian Reform Law. In most cases, claimants have found that pursuing the subsequent legal avenues is costly and time consuming, and rarely leads to positive results. Compensation for land expropriated under the Agrarian Reform Law, when awarded, is paid in 20-year government bonds.

Dispute Settlement

The Honduran Government has a poor record of handling investment disputes, due to the outdated commercial code and the weak judicial system. The Honduran Commercial Code is the main legislation that regulates the operations of businesses in the country. This code, however, was written in 1950 and needs to be updated. The application of the Commercial Code and its regulations falls under the jurisdiction of the Honduran civil court system.

Most investment and property disputes are long lasting and arduous. U.S. claimants frequently complain about the lack of transparency and the slow administration of justice in the courts. There are also complaints that the Honduran judicial system caters to favoritism, external pressure and bribes. While some U.S. firms have satisfactorily resolved their cases through the courts, the majority have difficulty navigating the legal system. Many U.S. citizens have also complained about the quality of legal representation they receive from Honduran attorneys.

A new Civil Procedures Code (CPC), approved by the Honduran Congress on January 19, 2007, is expected to transform the entire civil-court system by establishing adversarial proceedings based on open, oral arguments. This will make civil proceedings more transparent, corruption more difficult to conceal, and civil justice more accessible, accountable, and fair. The CPC will provide more effective protection of commercial transactions, property rights, and land tenure. There will also be enhanced efficiency of rulings mandated by foreign courts. The CPC is being reviewed as a model for similar reforms in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.

CAFTA-DR provides for dispute settlement procedures between the United States and Honduras. Domestically, Honduras’ Conciliation and Arbitration Law (Decree 161-2000) – which seeks to encourage arbitration and clarify the procedures under which arbitration takes place – entered into force in March 2001. In September 2001, Centers for Conciliation and Arbitration were established within the Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Arbitration and conciliation are generally considered swifter and more cost-effective means of resolving disputes between commercial entities, and there may be the additional advantage that the arbitrator or mediator may have specialized expertise in the technical area involved in the dispute.

However, U.S. companies and U.S. citizens who have gone through an arbitration process have expressed disappointment with both the slow pace and lack of transparency of the procedure.

Honduras has been a member of the ICSID (International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes) since March 1989.

Performance Requirements and Incentives

There are relatively few performance requirements in Honduras. The 1992 Investment Law guarantees freedom to export and import to all foreign investors, and eliminates the requirement of prior administrative permits and licenses, except for statistical registries and customs procedures.

Application procedures for service suppliers in all sectors are generally simple, clear and non-discriminatory. Honduras’ service sector is widely accessible to foreign companies, including current U.S. participation in the Honduran banking, insurance and accounting markets. In both the banking and insurance sectors, the general rule is that foreign companies operate on an equal footing with local companies, so long as the foreign company establishes a branch or subsidiary in Honduras. However, there are restrictions on cross-border services and offshore operations. Insurance may not be offered on a cross-border basis, and a foreign bank wishing to operate offshore must establish a representative office in Honduras, which entails reporting requirements and other procedures which are very cumbersome. Furthermore, a Honduran branch of a foreign bank may only operate based on its capital in Honduras, not on its global or regional capital.

Honduran law prohibits discriminatory or preferential export and import policies affecting foreign investors. In practice, however, the Honduran government has at times used sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements to prevent imports of U.S. poultry, milk products, pork, feed grains and rice to Honduras. Changes in sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements are not always reported to the WTO as required, which creates uncertainty among U.S. suppliers and Honduran importers. Under CAFTA-DR, Honduras has agreed to apply the science-based disciplines of the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures, and will move towards recognizing export eligibility for all plants inspected under the U.S. food safety and inspection system.

The Honduran Government requires that sanitary permits be obtained from the Ministry of Health for all imported foodstuffs, and that all processed food products be labeled in Spanish and registered with the Division of Food Control (DFC) of the Ministry of Health. Some U.S. businesses have complained that delays in the process of granting these permits hamper their ability to import products into Honduras. U.S. companies have also reported that these regulations are not always strictly enforced for Honduran companies. This may place U.S. companies that comply with the regulations at a disadvantage.

Additional import restrictions, based mainly on public health, public morality, and national security grounds, remain in place. For example, restrictions are imposed on the importations of firearms and ammunitions, toxic chemicals and pornographic material.

U.S. citizens wishing to travel to Honduras do not need a visa prior to arrival. Foreigners interested in working in the country must obtain a resident visa from the Honduran Ministry of Government and a work permit from the Ministry of Labor. To process a request for a resident visa and work permit may take up to three months.

In 1999, the Honduran National Congress passed a Tourism Incentives Law, which offers tax exemptions for national and international investment in tourism development projects in Honduras. The law provides income tax exemptions for the first ten years of the project and permits the duty-free import of goods needed for the project, including publicity materials. In June 2002 a reformed law was passed, offering the same basic incentives, but with a narrower definition of who may qualify for the incentives. For example, restaurants were included as a duty-free tourist activity in the 1999 law, but removed in the 2002 law. This change is due in large part to the current saturation of the fast food and restaurant market, since many franchises established locations in Honduras under the duty-free incentives of the 1999 law. Other enterprises now excluded from the law’s benefits are casinos, nightclubs and movie theaters. In addition, a requirement was added that a business must be located in a designated tourism zone in order to qualify for tax exemptions and duty-free status. For information on investment incentives offered in Free Trade Zones, please see the section on Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports below.

Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

The 1992 Investment Law guarantees both local and foreign investors the right to own property, subject to certain restrictions established by the Honduran Constitution and several laws relating to property rights. This guarantee includes the right to free acquisition, profit, use, disposition and any other right attributable to property ownership. The major exception is the constitutional prohibition of foreign ownership of land within 40 kilometers of international borders and shorelines, although Honduran law now permits foreign individuals to purchase properties in designated “tourism zones” (see section on Land Rights below.)

Investors have the right to freely establish, acquire and dispose of interests in business enterprises at market prices, under freely negotiated conditions and without government intervention. However, in several instances since 2006 the Government of Honduras arbitrarily established de facto or de jure price controls on products being sold by private firms, and in the case of fuels considered nationalizing all imports and closing the market to competition. Although this debate has disappeared from the GOH agenda, international fuel importers claim revenue loss from the fixed price formula used to determine their profit on fuel sales. Private enterprises compete on an equal basis with public enterprises with respect to access to markets, credit and other business operations.

Protection of Property Rights

Intellectual Property Rights:
Although Honduras does not host large-scale in-country optical pirating, pirated goods are imported from neighboring countries, and the piracy of books, sound and video recordings, compact discs and computer software is widespread. Confiscations have steadily increased with new CAFTA-DR ex-oficio powers, although the sale of pirated goods continues unabated. The illegitimate registration of well-known trademarks has also been a problem. Success in protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) rests primarily on the Government of Honduras’ ability to effectively implement its current laws, rather than a need for further legislation. The Property Institute (IP) handles protection of intellectual property rights.

Honduras largely complied with the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement by the January 1, 2000, deadline. In December 1999, the Honduran Congress passed two laws to correct deficiencies in previous legislation concerning copyrights, patents and trademarks. The Copyright Law added more than 20 different criminal offenses related to copyright infringement and establishes fines and suspension of services that can be levied against offenders. The Law of Intellectual Property, which covers both trademarks and patents, included modifications on patent protection for pharmaceuticals, extending the term from seventeen to twenty years to meet international standards. In 2006 the Honduran Congress passed legislation governing the designs of integrated circuits and plant variety protection as a measure to bring it into compliance with its CAFTA-DR commitments. However, in the case of plant variety protection practical implementing measures – such as the establishment of an office dedicated to the matter or the training of officials – has yet to be completed.

In early 2006, Honduras strengthened its legal framework for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) with the passage of new laws in preparation for the entry into force of CAFTA-DR. The laws provide stronger deterrence against piracy and counterfeiting by, for example, requiring Honduras to authorize the seizure, forfeiture, and destruction of counterfeit and pirated goods and the equipment used to produce them. They also provide the establishment of statutory damages for copyright and trademark infringement, to ensure that monetary damages can be awarded even when losses associated with an infringement are difficult to assign. CAFTA-DR also requires Honduras to protect undisclosed test data submitted for the purpose of product marketing approval of pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical products against disclosure and unfair commercial use. However, as of the end of 2008, implementing regulations for these laws were still under development.

Finally, CAFTA-DR provides that authorities are able to confiscate pirated goods and investigate intellectual property cases on their own initiative. Honduran Government prosecutors have engaged in a series of raids against producers and vendors of pirated goods. This renewed emphasis on enforcement marks a notably positive shift towards greater anti-piracy efforts. Honduras became a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1983, and became party to the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonogram Treaty (WPPT) in May 2002. Honduran law protects data exclusivity for a period of five years, and protects process patents, but does not recognize second-use patents.

Land Rights:

U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution before entering into any form of commitment to invest in property, particularly in coastal areas and the Bay Islands. Honduran laws and practices regarding real estate differ substantially from those in the United States, and fraudulent deeds and titles are common. There is no title insurance in Honduras. In addition, the Honduran judicial system is weak and inefficient, often prolonging disputed cases for many years before resolution. Approximately 80 percent of the privately held land in the country is untitled. Americans have spent thousands of dollars in legal fees and years of frustration trying to resolve property disputes, even in cases in which local attorneys and Honduran and U.S. real estate agents had given assurances to the investor. There have been claims of widespread corruption in land sales and the registry and dispute resolution process, including claims against attorneys, real estate companies, judges and local officials. Property registration often is not up to date, nor can the results of title searches be relied upon. Violence has been used against Americans involved in disputed property cases. Potential investors should engage competent local legal representation before making any commitments. Investors should thoroughly check references of attorneys and real estate agents. The purchase of land in Honduras by foreigners should be undertaken only with great caution.

Article 107 of the Honduran Constitution prohibits foreign ownership of property in Honduras that lies within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Fonseca, international borders, or on any of the islands and cays belonging to Honduras. However, recognizing that the constitutional prohibition of foreign property ownership in Honduras was a barrier to development of tourism and the economic potential of Honduras’ coastal and island areas, the Honduran National Congress passed a law in 1990 to allow foreigners to purchase properties in designated tourism zones established by the Ministry of Tourism in order to construct permanent or vacation homes. This law was challenged as unconstitutional in 2004, but in January 2005 the Supreme Court upheld the new law, thus permitting foreigners to continue to own littoral and frontier property.

Foreigners or foreign companies seeking to purchase property in designated tourism zones exceeding 3,000 square meters in size or for tourism or other development projects must present an application to the Honduran Tourism Institute at the Ministry of Tourism. In addition to providing the requested personal information, the potential buyer must also prove that a contract to buy a specific property exists and that it is registered with the Honduran Tourism Institute. The buyer must also present feasibility studies and plans about the proposed tourism or economic development project.

According to the 2009 World Bank’s Doing Business Index (DBI), registering property in Honduras requires seven procedures, takes 23 days, and costs 5.5 percent GNI per capita.

A summary of procedures is as follows:

  1. Verification of property background;
  2. Verification that municipal taxes have been paid
  3. The notary issues the deed (preliminary)
  4. Payment of taxes and fees at a commercial bank
  5. Notary issues the first copy of the deed
  6. Registration at the Property Office
  7. Registration of the change of ownership in the Cadastre office

Transparency of the Regulatory System

The Honduran Government does not publish regulations before they enter into force and there is no formal mechanism for providing proposed regulations to the public for comment. Regulations must be published in the official government Gazette in order to enter into force. Honduras lacks an indexed legal code, and lawyers and judges must maintain and index the publication of laws on their own. Procedural red tape to obtain government approval for investment activities is very common. Foreign market participants who are represented locally and are members of connected private sector groups essentially have access to the same information as their Honduran counterparts. The lack of a formal notification process excludes most non-governmental groups, including foreign companies, from commenting on regulations.

The Honduran legal system is not efficient or transparent: U.S. claimants frequently complain about the lack of transparency and the slow administration of justice in the courts. There are also complaints that the Honduran judicial system suffers from favoritism, external pressure and bribes. While some U.S. firms have satisfactorily resolved their cases through the courts, the majority have difficulty navigating the legal system. Many U.S. citizens have also complained about the quality of legal representation they receive from Honduran attorneys.

Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

There are no government restrictions on foreign investors' access to local credit markets.  However, the local banking system is conservative and generally extends only limited amounts of credit. Interest rates have been steadily declining for several years, but remain high. As of November 2008, the average lending rate for a loan in Lempiras was 17.95 percent, up from 13.10 percent a year earlier, and for a loan in dollars was 10.42 percent, up from 8.25 percent a year earlier. Local banks should not be considered a significant source of start-up capital for new foreign ventures, unless they use specific business development credit lines made available by bilateral or multilateral financial institutions, such as the Central American Bank for Economic Integration.

Loans from banks tend to be short-term, with substantial collateral and/or guarantee requirements. Several regional and international banks acquired new operations or expanded existing operations in Honduras in 2006, including Citigroup, HSBC, and GE Capital. Increased competition and higher standards overall have led to more competitive lending practices and an expansion of credit that could benefit potential investors.

There are a limited number of credit instruments available in the local market. The only security exchange operating in the country is the Central American Securities Exchange (BCV) in Tegucigalpa (http://www.bcv.hn). (Another securities exchange, the Honduran Securities Exchange (BHV) in San Pedro Sula, ceased operations in 2004.) The Central American Securities Exchange is supervised by the National Banking and Insurance Commission (CNBS). Instruments that can be traded theoretically include bankers’ acceptances, reposition agreements, short-term promissory notes, Honduran Government private debt conversion bonds and land reform repayment bonds. However, in practice, the market is nearly 100 percent composed of short-term government securities, and no formal secondary market for these bonds exists. No private firms currently sell commercial paper or corporate stock on the exchange. Any private business is eligible to trade its financial instruments on the exchange, and firms that participate are subject to a rigorous screening process. Historically, traded firms generally have had economic ties to the different business/financial groups represented as shareholders of the exchange, which has led to lax risk management practices and an enduring loss of public confidence in the institution. Supervision of the exchange has traditionally been inadequate, even though a new law regulating security exchanges was passed in 2001.

Investors should exercise caution before putting money into the BCV. There is no regulatory body for the accounting profession in Honduras. The Association of Public Accountants is responsible for certifying practicing professionals. In general, Honduran businesses adhere to international Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). These principles are normally applied per guidelines from the Ministry of Finance's General Directorate for Taxation. The Honduran financial system is comprised of commercial banks, state-owned banks, savings and loans and finance companies. There are currently 17 commercial banks operating in Honduras. Of these 17 banks, 10 have majority foreign ownership, accounting for 50.1 percent of total bank capital (as of November 2008). There is limited off-shore banking in Honduras.

The Honduran banking sector recently experienced a wave of consolidation. Between 1999 and 2002, four Honduran banks either collapsed or were liquidated, including the collapse of Bancorp in 1999, and Banhcreser in 2001In 2002, the CNBS forced the liquidation of Banco Capital, and placed another bank, Banco Sogerin, under the supervision of the national Deposit Insurance Fund until it was sold in 2003. In 2005-2006, HSBC purchased BanIstmo, GE Capital purchased 49 percent of BAC and Banco Mercantil, and Citigroup purchased Banco Cuscatlan and Banco Uno. Each of these was a regional bank with limited exposure in Honduras. BAC merged with Bamer in 2007.

In September 2004, at the insistence of the IMF, the Honduran Congress passed a set of four financial sector reform laws that have lead to reasonable improvements in supervision of the banking system. The four laws reformed the Deposit Insurance Fund, the Central Bank, the National Banking and Insurance Commission, and the general system of financial supervision. A fifth law, passed in December 2004, established new and stronger penalties for financial crimes including bank fraud. The major challenge to implementation of these laws four years later appears to be a lack of random selection in the auditory process.

Political Violence

Honduras has not experienced major problems with domestic political violence. Political demonstrations do occur sporadically, and they can disrupt traffic, but they are generally announced in advance and are usually peaceful. Most major demonstrations occur in downtown Tegucigalpa. Travelers should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place, and they should keep informed by following the local news and consulting hotel personnel and tour guides.

While political violence is not a major concern, levels of crime and violence are high, and do represent a major constraint on investment. In a World Bank survey conducted in 2002 of both Honduran and foreign firms operating in Honduras, one in three firms surveyed reported having suffered a criminal attack in the previous year. These attacks led to a loss of 0.9 percent of annual sales, and expenses devoted to security measures (hiring security guards, installing alarms, etc.) represented another 3.6 percent of annual sales. Total losses due to a lack of security therefore added up to 4.5 percent of sales - a significant proportion, second in the region only to Guatemala.

Reinforced by the media and several political watchdog organizations, concerted efforts to protect human rights and civil liberties continue. Organized labor represents approximately 8 percent of the workforce and its economic and political influence continues to decline.


Two codes regulate justice and provide for penalties against corruption: the Criminal Procedures Code (CPC) and the Penal Code (PC). In 2002, a reform of the CPC entered into force, changing the criminal judicial system from a traditional written inquisitorial trial system to an adversarial, oral, and public trial system. The new CPC is improving justice and accountability in a number of ways, including increased transparency in the criminal process.

The main responsibility for fighting corruption lies with the Public Ministry, under the direction of the Attorney General (Fiscal General). In 2002, the Government created a new control entity, the Superior Accounting Tribunal (TSC) which brought together the Comptroller General of the Republic (CGR), the Directorate of Administrative Probity (Ethics office) and the Office of State Assets under one roof and under the direction of three members selected by Congress. While the TSC has undertaken numerous investigations, it has had no noticeable effect in limiting or reducing corruption in Honduras. However, during 2008, the TSC on numerous occasions publicly criticized certain high-profile government contracts.

Historically, many U.S. firms and citizens operating in Honduras have found corruption to be a serious problem and a constraint to successful investment. In a World Bank survey conducted in 2002 of both Honduran and foreign firms operating in Honduras, corruption was identified as the single largest constraint to economic growth. In its 2008 corruptions perception survey of businesspeople, Transparency International named Honduras as the seventh-most corrupt country in the Western Hemisphere, calling its level of corruption “rampant.” Corruption appears to be most pervasive in government procurement, government permits, and in the buying and selling of real estate (land titling). With considerable U.S. help, the government is reforming Honduras' judicial system and reducing elite immunity and corruption, though serious problems remain in these areas. Bribery is a criminal act in Honduras and, depending on the degree of the offense, is subject to fines or incarceration. A bribe to a foreign official is also a criminal act under U.S. law (the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).

Bilateral Investment Agreements

On July 12, 2001, a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between the U.S. and Honduras entered into force. The Treaty provides for equal protection under the law for U.S. investors in Honduras and permits expropriation only in accordance with international law standards and accompanied by adequate compensation. U.S. investors in Honduras also have the right to submit an investment dispute to binding international arbitration. The U.S.-Honduras Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Consular Rights (1928) provides for Most Favored Nation treatment for investors of either country. The U.S. and Honduras also signed an agreement for the guarantee of private investments in 1955 and an agreement on investment guarantees in 1966. Honduras signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with the U.S. in 1992. Provisions for investment are included in bilateral commercial treaties between Honduras and Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. Honduras also has bilateral investment agreements with the United Kingdom and Spain.

CAFTA-DR not only liberalized bilateral trade between the United States and the region, but also furthered integration efforts among the countries of Central America, removing barriers to trade and investment in the region by U.S. companies. CAFTA-DR also requires the countries of Central America to undertake needed reforms to alleviate many of the systemic problems noted above, in areas including protection of intellectual property rights, openness of government procurement, financial services market access and protection, alleviation of sanitary and phyto-sanitary barriers, and others.

OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs
The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provides loan guarantees, which are typically used for larger projects, and direct loans, which are reserved for projects sponsored by or substantially involving U.S. small businesses and cooperatives. OPIC can normally guarantee or lend from USD $100,000 to USD $250 million per project. OPIC also offers insurance against risks of currency inconvertibility, expropriation and political violence. In July 2004, OPIC concluded a new bilateral investment treaty with Honduras. The agreement updates one signed in 1966, and should streamline OPIC support for U.S. investment in Honduras. For additional information on OPIC financing, insurance, and other programs for assisting U.S. businesses invest overseas please visit http://www.opic.gov.

Other countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Japan provide insurance and guarantees for their companies doing business in Honduras. In addition, Honduras is a party to the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).


Honduras has a significant availability of labor for industries with a demand for relatively low skilled workers, given the low average education level of its population. There is a limited supply of skilled workers in all technological fields, as well as in medical and high technology industries.

In general, Honduran labor laws are good. There are several concerns, however, in enforcement, and inefficiency in the courts – Honduras has the lowest caseload in the region – makes it difficult for workers to seek rulings on their claims. The maquila sector has made great strides in eliminating the worst forms of labor violations. Union officials remain critical of what they perceive as inadequate enforcement by the Ministry of Labor (MOL) of workers' rights, particularly the right to form a union and bargain collectively, and the reinstatement of workers unjustly fired for union organizing activities. Through cooperation within the bipartite and tripartite commissions (unions, MOL, private sector) and other venues, MOL inspectors' access to maquila plants to enforce the labor code has improved, and MOL has continued to work to increase its effectiveness in enforcing worker rights and child labor laws.

The labor law prescribes a maximum 8-hour workday and 44-hour week. There is a requirement for at least one 24-hour rest period every week. The Labor Code provides for a paid vacation of 10 workdays after one year, and of 20 workdays after four years. The Constitution and Labor Code prohibit the employment of persons under the age of 16, except that a 15-year old may be permitted to work with the written permission of parents and the MOL. All persons under 18 years of age are prohibited from night work, dangerous work and full time work.

The Children's Code (September 10, 1996) prohibits a person of 14 years of age or less from working, even with parental permission, and establishes prison sentences of 3 to 5 years for individuals who allow children to work illegally. An employer who legally hires a 15-year-old must certify that the young person has finished or is finishing compulsory schooling. The MOL grants a number of work permits to 15-year-olds each year. Document fraud is prevalent among minors interested in working. Many violations of the children’s code occur in the agricultural sector and informal economy. Additional information about Honduran labor legislation, including copies of the laws themselves, can be found (in Spanish only) at www.leylaboral.com.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Trade Zones

There are no known export subsidies provided by the Honduran Government. The Temporary Import Law (RIT) allows exporters to introduce raw materials, parts and capital equipment (except vehicles) into Honduras exempt from surcharges and customs duties if the input is to be incorporated into a product for export (up to five percent can be sold locally). Export processing zones can be established anywhere in the country, and companies operating in export processing zones are exempt from paying import duties and other charges on goods and capital equipment. In addition, the production and sale of goods within export processing zones are exempt from state and municipal income taxes for the first ten years of operation. Companies operating in an export processing zone are permitted unrestricted repatriation of profits and capital and have access to onsite customs facilities. However, companies are required to purchase the Lempiras. needed for their local operations from Honduran commercial banks or from foreign exchange trading houses registered with the Central Bank.

Most industrial parks and export processing zones are located in the northern Department of Cortés, with close access to Puerto Cortés, Honduras’s major Caribbean port, and San Pedro Sula, Honduras’s major commercial city and a transportation crossroads. Industrial parks and export processing zones are treated as offshore operations. Subsequently, customs duties must be paid on products manufactured in the parks and sold in Honduras. In addition, if Honduran inputs are used in production, they are treated as exports and must be paid for in U.S. dollars. While most companies that operate in these parks are involved in apparel assembly, the government and park operators are beginning to diversify into other types of light industry, including automotive parts and electronics assembly.

Privately owned tourism zones may be established to promote the development of the tourism industry in Honduras. The law allows the free importation of equipment, supplies, and vehicles to businesses operating in designated tourism zones, with certain restrictions (see the description of the tourism law in section A.5, above). Additional information on Honduran FTZs and export processing zones is available from the Honduran Manufacturers Association at http://www.ahm-honduras.com.

Foreign Direct Investment Statistics

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Honduras has achieved sustained growth since 2002, reflecting increased efforts towards macroeconomic stability and increased investor confidence. According to Central Bank data, FDI flows to Honduras in 2007 totaled US $929.3 million (a 37 percent increase over 2006). The U.S. continues to be a dominant source of FDI in Honduras (with 53.8 percent of all FDI inflows during 2007). Other countries and regions currently maintaining high levels of investment are: Canada and South Korea (textiles); Mexico (telecommunications and consumer trade); Central America (mainly Panama and El Salvador, in the financial services sector, real estate, and development of commercial projects); and UK/Holland/Spain/Italy (construction, electrical power, and agro-industry). Direct Foreign Investment in 2007 accounted for 6.14 percent of Honduran GDP, with 7.1 percent estimated for 2008. Major FDI flows for 2008 are foreseen for the telecommunications, financial and manufacturing sectors.

Table 1: Honduras - Foreign Investment - Companies
By Country of Origin
In US$ millions



2005 p/

2006 p/

2007 p/





North America





































































































































































Source: Central Bank of Honduras: Country breakdown for 2005 and 2007.

Table 2: Honduras – Foreign Direct Investment by Economic Activity
(Millions of Dollars and percentages)

Industry Sectors reporting positive variations:
• Banking & Insurance 20.1 percent
• Private construction 19.3 percent
• Transport & Communications 12.9 percent
• Public Administration 9.5 percent
• Commerce 8.6 percent
• Miscellaneous Services 6.1 percent
• Power & Water 5.4 percent
• Manufacturing Industry 3.1 percent
• Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing 2.4 percent

Table 3: Honduras - Foreign Direct Import Flows by Industry Sector

(Millions of Dollars)

SECTIONS 2005 2006 2007  
1 LIVE ANIMALS; ANIMAL PRODUCTS 7,673.7 11,146.1 8,875.8
2 VEGETABLE PRODUCTS 16,460.1 19,709.7 23,522.0
3 ANIMAL OR VEGETABLE FATS AND OILS 1,103.0 3,208.0 5,181.8
4 PREPARED FOODSTUFFS 39,025.0 55,708.0 52,724.8
5 MINERAL PRODUCTS 56,500.8 69,206.6 141,768.5
5.1 FUEL & LUBRICANTS 54,789.2 64,766.6 140,065.7
5.2 OTHER MINERAL PRODUCTS 1,711.7 4,440.0 1,702.8
7 PLASTICS AND RUBBER 27,187.9 29,693.0 33,337.2
8 RAW HIDES AND SKINS, LEATHER, FURSKINS 1,168.1 1,461.5 1,598.2
9 WOOD, CHARCOAL & CORK ART. THEREOF 1,709.1 1,478.7 2,930.6
10 PAPER MANUFACTUIRNG 19,275.4 24,423.5 26,412.8
11 TEXTILE MATERIALS 14,736.6 19,542.7 20,402.9
12 FOOTWARE & HATS 5,803.9 7,588.2 7,293.0
13 ROCK, PLASTER, GLASS, CEMENT & ALLIEDS 5,338.6 7,822.6 7,833.5
15 COMMON MENTALS 24,688.6 37,992.1 40,855.0
16 MACHINES, APPLIANCES AND ELECTRICAL EQUIP. 61,174.5 91,957.9 130,465.9
17 TRANSPORT MATERIALS 24,153.4 42,318.1 54,725.5
18 OPTICS, PHOTOGRAPHY, CINEMA, MEDICAL & OTHERS 3,665.1 5,677.9 5,367.8
19 GUNS & AMMUNITIONS 146.6 28.7 173.4
20 MERCHANDIZE AND VARIOUS PRODUCTS 7,962.4 12,888.6 14,255.3
21 ART & COLLECTIBLES 29.9 14.5 33.0
  TOTAL 373,849.8 505,875.2 669,975.5
  TOTAL WITHOUT FUEL 319,060.7 441,108.6 529,909.8

Source: Information based on CIF Import Statistics- Honduran Central Bank

Table 4: Honduras - Foreign Direct Investment Flows in Maquila Industry by Economic Sector
(Millions of Dollars and percentages)



I Semester percent percent


2005P 2006P 2005 2006
Textile Industry 76.3 43.9 39.0 68.9
Commerce 8.0 4.3 4.1 8.8
Agriculture & Fishing 7.8 3.0 4.0 4.5
Services to Corporations 22.9 30.7 11.7 17.3
Electronic Components 65.3 -10.0 33.4 1.2
Plastic Products 0.6 0.0 0.3 0.2
Wood Products -0.4 -0.4 -0.2 0.3
Tobacco 5.3 1.2 2.7 -0.1
Cardboard products 3.3 0.0 1.7 -4.9
Chemical products 2.7 0.0 1.4 0.0
Energy 0.4 0.0 0.2 0.3
Other Industries 3.2 0.0 1.6 3.5
Total 195.8 72.8 100.0 100.0


Source: Information based on quarterly surveys applied to industrial park companies.

Table 5: Selected Foreign Investments in Honduras

The following is a partial list of foreign firms and franchises of foreign firms operating in Honduras, with a description of the type of investment and country of origin.

Investor Country Type of Investment
American Airlines U.S. Airline services
America's Favorite Chicken U.S. Fast food
American Home Assurance Co. U.S. Insurance services
American International Group U.S. Insurance services
Americatel U.S. Telecommunications
Applewoods U.K. Cosmetics and Toiletries
Applebee's U.S. Restaurant
Astaldi ITA Engineering
Azucarera "La Grecia" Guatemala Sugar
BAC (Banco de América Central Honduras) Nicaragua Financial services
Banco Lafisse Nicaragua Financial services
Banco Uno Nicaragua Banking services
Baskin-Robbins U.S. Ice Cream
BAT Industries PLC U.K. Tobacco products
Bay Island Fish Co. U.S. Seafood
Bayer Germany Pharmaceutical products
Benneton ITA Casual clothing
Best Western U.S. Hotel
BGA/BanIstmo Panama Banking services
Bojangles U.S. Restaurant
Breakwater Resources Corp. CAN/U.S. Mining
Bristol Myers Squibb U.S. Beauty products
Budget Rent a Car U.S. Car rental
Burger King Inc. U.S. Fast food
Candy Bouquet U.S. Candy Store
Cargill, Inc. U.S. Animal feed, poultry & meat processing
Castle & Cooke, Inc. U.S. Bananas and other agricultural products; bottling and brewing
Caterpillar Tractors U.S. Spare parts, accessories
Cerveceria Hondurena, S.A. South Africa Soft drinks and beers
Chestnut Hill Farms U.S. Agricultural products
Chili's U.S. Franchise Casual Dining
Chiquita Brands International U.S. Bananas and other agricultural products
Church's Chicken U.S. Fast food
Cinemark U.S. Entertainment
Cinnabon U.S. Fast food
Citigroup U.S. Banking services
Citrus Development Corp. U.S. Citrus production and processing
Colgate-Palmolive U.S. Personal care products
Congelados Holanda Mexico Ice cream
Continental Airlines U.S. Airline services
CPC International U.S. Corn starch
Crowley American Transport U.S. Ocean freight services
Cultivos Marinos U.S. Shrimp farms
Cybex U.S. Health & fitness
Daimler Chrysler Corporation U.S. Cars
Delta Airlines U.S. Airline
Demahsa Mexico Corn flour
DHL U.S. Air freight services
Dickies U.S. Textiles and apparel
Digicel Ireland-Jamaica Mobile Telephony
Dippin Dots U.S. Franchise Ice Cream
Domino's Pizza U.S. Fast food
Dos Pinos Costa Rica Ice cream and milk products
Dry Cleaning USA U.S. Dry cleaning services
Dunkin' Donuts U.S. Fast food
Empacadora Cortes, S.A. U.S. Meat production; packing
Elektra Mexico Household goods/appliances
Ernst & Young International U.S. Accounting & auditing services
Exxon U.S. Petroleum products marketing
FEDEX U.S. Air freight services
Five Star Mining U.S. Mining exploration
GE Capital U.S. Financial Services
G.B.M. de Honduras U.S. Computer services
Glamis Gold, Ltd. U.S./Canada Gold mining
Global One Communication U.S. Telecommunications
GNC U.S. Health products
Gold's Gym U.S. Health & fitness
Grupo Granjas Marinas U.S. Shrimp farms
Hansa World Sweden Administration software
H.B. Fuller U.S. Adhesives; paints
Hertz Rent a Car U.S. Car rental
Holiday Inn Hotel U.S. Hotel
Hotel Real Inter-Continental El Salvador Hotels
Hotel Princess Guatemala Hotel
House of Windsor U.S. Tobacco
HSBC China Banking Services
Industrial Engineers, Inc. U.S. Repair & construction, naval vessels
Kentucky Fried Chicken U.S. Fast food
Kimberly-Clark U.S. Paper products; Pharmaceutical products
KPMG Peat Marwick U.S. General business consultants
Lacoste France Apparel
La Fragua Central America Consumer Trade
Lear Corporation U.S. Electronic Automotive Harnesses
Little Caesar's Pizza U.S. Fast food
Lloyds TSB (Cuscatlan) El Salvador Banking services
Maersk Sealand Denmark Shipping
Mail Boxes, etc. U.S. Courier services and copy center
Marriott Hotels and Resorts U.S. Hotel
Martinizing U.S. Dry cleaning services
Mayan Gold, Inc. U.S. Mining
McDonald's Corporation U.S. Fast food
McCann Erickson U.S. Advertising; publicity
Midas International U.S. Automotive parts & Services
Millicom Sweden/U.S. Telecom
Motorola U.S. Telecommunications
Moore Business Forms U.S. Business forms
Multiplaza (Grupo Roble) El Salvador Shopping center chain
Nautica U.S. Clothing
Nestle Products Switzerland Food products
New York Pizza U.S. Franchise Casual Dining
Office Depot U.S. Office supplies
Oracle U.S. Software
Pakmail U.S. Packaging and Courier Services
Pan Bimbo Mexico Bread products
Pan American Life Ins. Co. U.S. Life insurance
Parker Tobacco U.S. Cigars
Payless Shoe Source U.S. Footwear
Paysen Germany Pharmaceutical products
Peat, Marwick, & Mitchell U.S. Accounting and auditing services
PheLempiras-Dodge U.S. Electric wire & Cable manufacturing
Pizza Hut International U.S. Fast food
Pollo Campero Guatemala Fast food; animal feed; poultry processing
Popeye’s U.S. Fast food
Price Smart U.S. Warehouse stores
Price Waterhouse U.S. Accounting & auditing services
Quick Internet U.S. Telecommunications, internet services
Quizno's U.S. Fast food
Radio Shack U.S. Electrical Appliances
RJR-Nabisco U.S. Food products
Ruby Tuesday's U.S. Restaurant
Russell Corporation U.S. Textiles and apparel
Sabritas Mexico Snacks
Scott Paper, Inc. U.S. Paper products
Seaboard Marine Corp. U.S. Winter fruits & vegetables; aquaculture; ocean freight services
Sears U.S. Consumer Household goods
Select U.K. Convenience stores
Shell U.K. Petroleum products marketing
Siemens Germany Telecommunications
Smith-Kline Beecham U.K. Pharmaceutical
Sprint U.S. Telecommunications products
Standard Fruit (Dole) U.S. Tropical fruits
Star Mart U.S. Convenience store
Stewart & Stevenson U.S. Electricity generation
Subway U.S. Fast food
TAHSA U.K. Tobacco
TACA El Salvador Airline services
TCBY U.S. Fast food
Technology Research Corp. U.S. Electrical supplies
Texaco U.S. Petroleum products marketing
TGI Friday's U.S. Restaurant
3M U.S. Office supplies
Tommy Hilfiger U.S. Clothing
Tony Roma's U.S. Restaurant
Tropical Gas Company U.S. Appliance and other equipment
Unilever U.K./Holland Cleaning Products, Beverages, Food
United Marketing (Unimerc) U.S. Marketing services
United Parcel Services (UPS) U.S. International Courier
United Technologies Automotive U.S. Automobile electronics assembly
U.S. Tobacco U.S. Cigars
Van Ommeren-Ceteco Netherlands Trading/retailing
Wellington Hall Caribbean, Inc. U.S. Furniture
Wendy's U.S. Fast food
Witten International U.S. Apparel
Xerox U.S. Business machine sales & services
ZARA Spain Clothing

Web Resources

Economic Commission for Latin America
and the Caribbean (CEPAL) http://www.eclac.cl
Honduran Central Bank http://www.bch.hn
Honduran Association of Banking Institutions http://www.ahiba.hn
Ministry of Industry and Trade http://www.sic.gob.hn
FIDE http://www.hondurasinfo.hn
National Banking & Insurance Commission http://www.cnbs.gov.hn
Foreign Trade Information System http://www.sice.oas.org
Overseas Private Investment Corporation http://www.opic.gov
Honduran Manufacturing Association http://www.ahm-honduras.com