More information about El Salvador is available on the El Salvador Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
U.S.-EL SALVADOR RELATIONS
The United States established diplomatic relations with El Salvador in 1863 following El Salvador’s independence from Spain and the later dissolution of a federation of Central American states. Post-independence, the country saw a mix of revolutions, democracy, and a 1980-1992 civil war. After the signing of peace accords in 1992, the Salvadorans consolidated their democracy through an uninterrupted chain of elected governments. The United States is proud to partner with El Salvador to maintain democratic institutions and rule of law, which promote inclusive economic development. The United States is also home to more than two million Salvadoran immigrants.
El Salvador is working to reduce the threats posed by transnational criminal organizations and gangs, but endemic crime, corruption, lack of respect for human rights, and impunity threaten its progress by undermining the legitimacy of state institutions and impeding economic growth. These challenges, recently accentuated by the COVID 19 pandemic, drive irregular migration as well as forced displacement.
U.S. Migration Policy Towards El Salvador and the Region
The U.S. Strategy to Address the Root Causes of Migration and the U.S. Collaborative Migration Management Strategy are the principal frameworks guiding U.S. diplomatic efforts and foreign assistance in El Salvador and across Central America. These strategies support El Salvador in addressing the challenges the country faces as both a source of northward migration and transit country for migrants from the region and the world.
The Root Causes Strategy focuses on a coordinated, place-based approach to improve the underlying causes that push Central Americans, including many Salvadorans, to migrate. This strategy lays out a framework to use the policy, resources, and diplomacy of the United States, and to leverage the expertise and resources of a broad group of public and private stakeholders, to build hope for citizens in El Salvador that the life they desire can be found at home. The strategy is organized under five pillars:
- Pillar I: Addressing economic insecurity and inequality;
- Pillar II: Combating corruption, strengthening democratic governance, and advancing the rule of law;
- Pillar III: Promoting respect for human rights, labor rights, and a free press;
- Pillar IV: Countering and preventing violence, extortion, and other crimes perpetrated by criminal gangs, trafficking networks, and other organized criminal organizations; and
- Pillar V: Combating sexual, gender-based, and domestic violence.
The Collaborative Migration Management Strategy (CMMS) works together with the Root Causes Strategy and is the first U.S. whole-of-government effort focused on reducing irregular migration to the U.S. border by promoting safe, orderly, and humane migration; improving access to protection for those fleeing persecution and torture; and strengthening migration cooperation and responsibility sharing throughout North and Central America. The CMMS aims to enhance international protection and protection within El Salvador, promote temporary labor programs, strengthen lawful pathways for those who choose to migrate or are forcibly displaced from their homes in North and Central America, foster humane border management practices, and reduce irregular migration.
The CMMS includes eight distinct lines of action to strengthen collaborative migration management across North and Central America, including El Salvador:
- Stabilize populations with acute needs;
- Expand access to international protection;
- Expand access to protection in countries of origin;
- Expand third country labor migration programs with worker protections;
- Assist and reintegrate returned persons;
- Foster secure and humane management of borders;
- Strengthen regional public messaging on migration; and
- Expand access to lawful pathways for protection and opportunity in the United States.
U.S. Assistance to El Salvador
Bilateral, regional, and humanitarian assistance through the Department of State and USAID averaged $169.2 million per year (FYs 2019-2020). In FY 2021 the Department and USAID have provided an additional $27.9 million in humanitarian assistance to support the Salvadoran people in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, improving livelihoods, and supporting the urgent humanitarian and protection needs of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, and other vulnerable populations.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States and El Salvador are parties to the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which aims to facilitate trade and investment and enhance regional integration by eliminating tariffs, opening markets, reducing barriers to services, and promoting transparency. CAFTA-DR contains a chapter on investment with commitments similar to those found in investment treaties the United States typically negotiates on a bilateral basis. More than 200 U.S. companies have established either a permanent commercial presence in El Salvador or work through representative offices in the country. U.S. exports to El Salvador consist primarily of fuel products, aircraft, equipment, cereals (yellow corn, rice, and wheat), soybeans, and cotton. U.S. imports from El Salvador include apparel (77 percent) and agricultural products (coffee, tea, and sugars). Remittances from Salvadorans working in the United States make up 21 percent of El Salvador’s GDP. The United States has a trade surplus with El Salvador, with exports to El Salvador in 2018 exceeding imports by $907 million.
El Salvador’s Membership in International Organizations
The United States and El Salvador are parties to the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which aims to facilitate trade and investment and enhance regional integration by eliminating tariffs, opening markets, reducing barriers to services, and promoting transparency. CAFTA-DR contains a chapter on investment with commitments similar to those found in investment treaties the United States typically negotiates on a bilateral basis. More than 200 U.S. companies have established either a permanent commercial presence in El Salvador or work through representative offices in the country. U.S. exports to El Salvador consist primarily of fuel products, equipment and machinery, cereals (yellow and white corn), plastics, and cotton. U.S. imports from El Salvador include apparel (71 percent) and agricultural products (coffee, tea, and sugars). Trade in total (two-way) goods between the United States and El Salvador was $4.5 billion in 2020, and the United States had a goods trade surplus with El Salvador in North and Central America of $660.9 million in 2020. Remittances from Salvadorans working in the United States totaled $5.9 billion in 2020, representing 24 percent of El Salvador’s GDP. The economy contracted by nearly 9 percent in 2020 and the country is projected to reach 4.2 percent growth in 2021, in line with the regional average.
Principal U.S. embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
El Salvador maintains an embassy in the United States at 1400 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20036 (tel: 202-595-7500).
More information about El Salvador is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
CIA World Factbook El Salvador Page
USAID El Salvador Page
History of U.S. Relations With El Salvador
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Millennium Challenge Corporation: El Salvador
Library of Congress Country Studies