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.: Potential of Each Economic Sector - Center for Export and Investment | CEI :.

Nicaragua » General Information

Potential of Each Economic Sector


Agroindustry: Nicaragua has a tradition of farming and ranching. It has a total of 3.6 million very fertile hectares of land. Approximately 70% is not under cultivation and 60% of the national territory is forested land with an impressive amount of vegetation and fauna.

A very positive component is that the agroclimatic conditions and large reserves of water for irrigation offer a great opportunity for investment in crops with high export potential.

Trade: Trade activity is mostly sustained by the commercialization of imported products and to a lesser extent by industrial and agricultural products.

According to data from the Central Bank of Nicaragua, the trade and services sectors increased their added value by 5.1% in 2007, contributing 2.4 percentage points to the growth in GDP.

The dynamics of consumption and industrial activity facilitated the positive performance of trade, which grew 4.5 percent. This was reflected by mainly in larger imports of consumer goods, raw materials and intermediate products for industry.


Fishing and Aquaculture: Nicaragua is a relatively small country, but its coast extends for 410 kilometers along the Pacific shore and 530 kilometers along the Caribbean shore.  Its continental platform covers 77,000 km2 and its Exclusive Economic Zone encompasses 304,000 km2.
The fish catch and aquaculture harvest are oriented toward the international market, including the fishing of coastal shrimp and rock lobster from the Caribbean. Most of these products are exported in raw frozen form, mainly to the United States (more than 80%) followed by the European Union and Japan.

Tourism: This sector has excellent potential. In the first six months of 2008 it generated a total of US$133.2 million for the country; representing an increase of 10.6% compared to 2007. 

A series of laws facilitate investment in this sector and investors enjoy the possibility of entering a market which offers multiple advantages for growth. Nicaragua has innumerable natural wealth: lakes, lagoons, forests, beautiful beaches and stunning volcanoes.


Telecommunications: The growing boom in telecommunications in Nicaragua is a valuable tool for the development of businesses and investment. In recent years, the two strongest telecommunications companies, Telefónica (Movistar) and América Móvil (Claro), have considerably increased their number of customers.

According to TELCOR, the regulatory body for telecommunications in Nicaragua, there were 202,800 cell phone users in 2002 and by the end of 2007 there were more than 2.12 million customers.

Data from the Annual Report of the Central Bank of Nicaragua show that the growth in communications during 2007 was due in large part to the expansion in coverage for telephone services, which rose 9.4%. The greater coverage in telecommunications was reflected in the increase in the number of users of that service, registering 36.9% growth in users of cell phones and 6% in users of land lines.

Mining:  Historically, Nicaragua has been the largest producer of precious metals in the Central America region, and has 7,787.76 km2 for mining exploration and 469.61 km2 dedicated to the exploitation of minerals, including gold and silver. It is noteworthy that Nicaragua exported a total of US$61.4 million in gold extracted from the country during 2007.

It also has other non-metallic minerals, such as gypsum, bentonite, limestone, quarry stone and marble, which are mostly sold domestically.

Energy: The natural wealth of Nicaragua is the major attraction for investing in the energy sector. The potential is so high that the production of renewable energy is becoming one of the strongest investment attractions of the country.


Nicaragua’s resources make it possible to generate wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass and electric energy. The country has an excellent legal framework (Law 532) which established a series of exemptions for businesses interested in investing in this sector.

Electric energy and potable water activities showed growth of 2.3 percent. The intensification of the electric energy deficit between June and November of 2007 had an important impact on this figure.

Free Trade Zone: Nicaragua has a Free Trade Zone Regime which offers the best incentives for foreign investment. It was the only Central American country that acquired preferential treatment in the clothing and textile category during the CAFTA negotiations.

The clothing sector represents 58% of the free trade zone activities; nevertheless, industrial investment has been diversifying at a brisk pace. Currently, there is industrial investment in another 23 categories, including tobacco production, hydroponic cropping and the manufacturing of automobile harnesses.

The business climate in Nicaragua facilitates investment and is supported by an extensive trade opening, the signing of international treaties which favor investment, and the application of incentives.  Moreover, it is the most competitive country in Latin America for investment in manufacturing.

Organic Production: The market for organic agriculture has expanded in recent years, presenting a larger potential for Nicaraguan agricultural products such as honey, sesame seed, coffee, vegetables, tropical fruit and others.

Currently the experience in organic production has focused on the coffee crop. However, there are many different products which take advantage of this modality.  Farmers that are working organically are located in the provinces of Estelí, Madriz, Matagalpa, Jinotega, Rivas, León and part of Chinandega, Boaco and the areas of Nueva Guinea and Muelle de los Bueyes.

Forest Sector: Nicaragua has approximately 56,000 Km² of forests, representing 43% of the national territory.  The largest forested area of the country (78%) is found in the Atlantic Region (RAAN and RAAS) and part of the Rio San Juan, 17% in the Central and Northern part of the country, and 5% in the Pacific Region.

The Forest Sector occupies 71% of the national territory and has 2.6 million hectares of both broad leaf and conifer forests, with production of approximately 80 million cubic feet of forest mass and abundant land suitable for forestry and agro-silvo-pastoral uses. This area has the greatest diversity of trees in Latin America including 65 species suitable for commercial export, such as: cocoa, rubber, palm oil, citrus, vanilla and musaceae, which are crops native to the wet tropics.

Mipyme: The micro, small and medium size enterprises in Nicaragua form an important sector of the economy of the country in job creation, and represent more than 90% of all enterprises.

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