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Economic Development of Central America Econ. 4200 - Spring 2004 – Dr. Taylor - page 67 / 153

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The government has attempted to revitalize the economy by fostering the diversification and expansion of nontraditional exports, and free trade zones have been established to encourage the expansion and decentralization of manufacturing. The collection of personal income taxes has improved significantly; the government, however, continues to rely upon revenue from other tax sources, such as customs duties, sales taxes, and excises on liquor and tobacco.

 The distribution of income remains highly unequal, with perhaps 75% of the population below the poverty line. Ongoing challenges include increasing the government revenues, negotiating further assistance from international donors, upgrading both government and private financial operations, and narrowing the trade deficit.

Despite the fact that the historic 1996 signing of the peace accords removed a major obstacle to foreign investment, numerous corruption scandals associated with the Portillo administration have dampened investor confidence.

 In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused relatively little damage to Guatemala compared to its neighbors.

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