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Social and economic problems continue to beset El Salvador and as a result, foreign direct investment (FDI) has dropped from more than $1.5bn in 2007, to less than $500m in 2014. Despite these difficulties, this small and populous country remains industrious: GDP increased by an estimated 2.4% in 2015, driven in large part by an increase in remittance inflows (18% of GDP in 2015) and net exports (a 4% increase from 2014). Moreover, El Salvador’s ‘ease of doing business’ ranking improved 11 places from 2015 to 2016, primarily due to increased access to credit. The Sánchez Cerén administration is seeking to provide financing, infrastructure and upgraded supply chains to approximately 10,000 small and medium-sized businesses in 2016 and is pursuing foreign investment through public-private partnerships (PPPs), yet these goals may prove difficult to achieve amid the current social and economic environment.

Salvadoran lawyers have remained busy, although the domestic conditions are having an impact on the type of instructions they receive from their clients. Corporate teams are concentrating on restructurings, closures, and sales of foreign corporations’ assets in the country, while banking and finance lawyers are focusing on obtaining and restructuring loans amid a constrained economy. Intellectual property lawyers are concentrating on patent and trade mark litigation, as well as customs and anti-counterfeiting enforcement. Arias & Muñoz maintains its position as the market leader with Consortium Legal hard on its heels in a close second. Romero Pineda & Asociados lost a number of key partners in 2015, but remains capable and ranks strongly. Meanwhile, BLP climbed into the Dispute Resolution and Corporate and M&A rankings for the first time – the firm opened its San Salvador office in late 2014 and is already making an impact.

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