There are no general requirements for local participation nor any restrictions on repatriation of capital. Guatemala's major diplomatic interests are regional security and, increasingly, regional development and economic integration. Guatemala participates in several regional groups, particularly those related to trade and environment. Foreign investor interest in Guatemala picked up with the signing of peace accords in 1996 and deregulation of the electric and telecommunications sectors. Structural reforms, such as the privatization program and trade liberalization measures, will add to investor appetite, but substantial investment in infrastructure and training the work force is needed. As of the first quarter of 1997, the government had invited bids for 12 oil exploration and production contracts. Oil production increased by 250% between 1992 and 1998.
In 1998, Guatemala passed the Foreign Investment Law, reducing the barriers to foreign investment. But investment was still restricted to minority ownership of domestic airlines and ground transport. Incentives are available for the forestry, mining, tourism, and petroleum sectors. There are also eight free trade zones.