El Salvador relies primarily on financial services and manufacturing for the generation of export revenue. Agriculture, once the country's dominant economic sector, has declined in importance but still plays a strong role in the economy. The economic restructuring which occurred over the 1980s and 1990s was undertaken to reduce volatility. Agricultural production was vulnerable to price declines and poor weather, prompting the government to reposition the economy in favor of more stable sources of revenue. The service and manufacturing industries were targeted for development.
Growth in the manufacturing sector was substantial in the 1990s, primarily due to the expansion of the maquila (offshore assembly for re-export) industry which has become the country's single largest category in terms of export revenue. Revenues generated by industry exports more than doubled in the last half of the decade. The CIA World Factbook estimated that by 1999 agriculture accounted for 12 percent of the GDP, industry 28 percent, and services 60 percent.