Guatemala Has Improved its Ratings with Three Credit Rating Agencies in Recent Years

Álvaro González Ricci, President of Banguat, noted that the goal of these actions is to elevate Guatemala to an investment-grade status.

by Victor Cojulún
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Guatemala City, by Brenda Larios -AGN- In recent years, Guatemala has seen its economic outlook improve thanks to credit rating agencies Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s Investors Service.

Álvaro González Ricci, president of the Bank of Guatemala, spoke about the results obtained, demonstrating confidence  and assessing what is being done in the country to address the crisis.

President González informed that last year, Guatemala was the only country in the world to receive a positive outlook change from all three credit rating agencies. This year, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s upgraded the country’s rating, and Moody’s will follow suit in May of next year.

These actions aim to elevate Guatemala to an investment-grade status, which would drastically alter the country’s international image.

Standard & Poor’s (S&P)

Guatemala received an improved credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, one of the world’s leading agencies specializing in country ratings. The agency granted this improvement due to the country’s sound economic management.

The Central Bank indicated in a report published on April 11 that Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings improved Guatemala’s credit rating, elevating it from BB- with a positive outlook to BB with a stable outlook.

S&P Global Ratings decided on this new classification in favor of the country, primarily based on the resilience and long-standing macroeconomic stability of the Guatemalan economy.

The rating agency’s report highlights several strengths of Guatemala, including:

  • A low fiscal deficit and adequate debt levels.
  • A strong monetary policy that supports stability.
  • An expectation of controlled inflation.

The report also emphasizes growth prospects for Guatemala, estimating a 3.4% increase in the Gross Domestic Product -GDP- for 2023 and percentages of 3.5% in the following years.

Fitch Ratings

In its report published on February 16, 2023, Fitch Ratings, a credit rating agency, upgraded Guatemala’s credit rating from BB- with a positive outlook to BB with a stable outlook.

This rating responds to factors such as sound fiscal and economic performance, improved external metrics, and actions taken in response to the pandemic and global price shocks.

Guatemala’s GDP recovery after the pandemic is one of the fastest in Latin America. Fiscal deficits and debt remain among the lowest in its BB-rated peers, benefiting from positive tax collection.

Current account surpluses have enhanced the country’s already strong solvency and external liquidity positions despite an adverse shift in terms of trade over the last year.

The report indicates that Fitch could raise the credit rating in the coming months if institutions supporting tax collection are strengthened, leading to improved fiscal flexibility, maintenance of low fiscal deficits, and keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio low.

It also considers continuing strong economic momentum, evidence of increased investment and medium-term growth prospects, and progress in governance or the next administration’s ability to advance its agenda.

Moody´s 

In its report published on June 15, 2022, Moody’s Investor Service, a credit rating agency, improved Guatemala’s credit rating outlook from negative to stable. The improved rating was due to sound fiscal performance, robust economic recovery, and conservative fiscal and monetary policies that limited the country’s debt metrics’ increase.

The agency highlights that the change to a stable outlook reflects Guatemala’s demonstrated ability to withstand the pandemic’s impact with minimal effect on its overall credit profile.

Solid economic results and a conservative fiscal policy have kept the increase in pandemic-related debt burdens to less than 5% of GDP.

Economic growth of 3.7% on average is expected for this year and the next, supporting the government’s debt burden stabilization below 31% of GDP.

The rating agency adds that Guatemala possesses a stable economy, with a history of resilience to external shocks, estimated at $93 billion (Moody’s estimate for 2022), the largest in Central America, surpassing the median of $69 billion for similar countries.

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