During the twentieth century the history of Central America has been conditioned by critical events related to the three aspects of trade, industrialization, and integration. At the same time, these three features have been patterned after an economic development strategy based on an export-led model. Exports have been vital for the region, although particular types of exports have acquired relevance at different points in time.
In Central America, the main separation among trade related activities has been divided between intra- and extraregional exports. Typically, agricultural exports have been destined for extraregional markets rather than for domestic consumption, and the area became wellknown, even before the start of the twentieth century, for exports of bananas and coffee. Agricultural exports were then expanded in the twentieth century by adding sugar, cotton and beef to the list of goods. Lately, other nontraditional items have been added as well, but not gall countries have been equally successful as in the case of bananas and coffee.
Intraregional trade, on the contrary, has consisted primarily of manufactured goods. This stage started after the 1950s when the five countries began their inward-looking type of industrialization through import substitution industrialization ( ISI). It is said that these countries were successful in this attempt during the first, easy stages of ISI, where mainly consumer goods were produced, but that they could not continue beyond this phase.
Lately, the trade structure of these countries has been subject to some transformation, as a result of various trade incentives received (mainly from the United States), in terms of special tariff provisions and the Caribbean Basin Initiative, of which Central America became a beneficiary. In particular, exports of manufactured goods, in addition to agricultural items, have started to be exported extraregionally. However, these exports of manufactures are