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Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Nicaragua is open to international trade, which represents almost 105% of the country's GDP (2012-2014 average). Nicaragua has been a member of the WTO since 1995, and its trade policy reflects its efforts to integrate into the global economy, as well as the diversification of its exports to have access to larger markets. The Government of Nicaragua has recently made reforms to its Free Zone system to promote international trade.

The country has few customs duties and non-tariff barriers. The highest tariffs are imposed on certain items, such as tobacco, alcohol and agricultural products (corn and rice). Since 2006, Nicaragua's exports have been stimulated by a free-trade agreement between the United States and Central America (CAFTA). In 2012, after three years of negotiations, the European Union and Central American countries signed a free-trade agreement, notably regarding agricultural products.

Nicaragua's trade balance is structurally in deficit, a trend that should continue in the coming years. The drop in oil prices and the resumption of exports should nevertheless help reduce the trade deficit.

Nicaragua primarily exports food products (coffee, beef, sugar), textiles and gold. The country mainly imports fuel, pharmaceutical and phytosanitary products. Its leading trading partners are the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) countries, the CACM (Central American Common Market) and China.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20112012201320142015
Imports of Goods (million USD) 6,3556,7786,6886,9467,090
Exports of Goods (million USD) 4,1334,6864,7945,1264,839
Imports of Services (million USD) 8058511,024988902
Exports of Services (million USD) 1,0481,1571,2371,3021,342
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1151312
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 81237-2
Trade Balance (million USD) -2,426-2,447-2,476-2,402-2,741
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 10711110610293
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 6565636055
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 4345434238

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - 2016.

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
United States 53.7%
Mexico 11.1%
Venezuela 6.2%
El Salvador 5.6%
Honduras 3.7%
Costa Rica 2.8%
Guatemala 2.4%
Canada 1.3%
United Kingdom 1.2%
Spain 1.2%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
United States 18.0%
China 14.4%
Mexico 10.4%
Costa Rica 8.2%
Guatemala 6.9%
El Salvador 5.2%
Honduras 3.0%
Japan 2.5%
Thailand 2.3%
Brazil 2.2%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data


Main Products

4.7 bn USD of products exported in 2015
Insulated incl. enamelled or anodised wire, cable incl. coaxial cable and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors; optical fibre cables, made-up of individually sheathed fibres, whether or not assembled with electric conductors or fitted with connectors 12.2%
T-shirts, singlets and other vests, knitted or crocheted 9.1%
Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion 8.5%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 6.7%
Meat of bovine animals, frozen 6.3%
Crustaceans, fit for human consumption, whether in shell or not, live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine, incl. crustaceans in shell cooked beforehand by steaming or by boiling in water; flours, meals and pellets of crustaceans, fit for human consumption 4.8%
Women's or girls' blouses, shirts and shirt-blouses (excl. knitted or crocheted and vests) 3.9%
Meat of bovine animals, fresh or chilled 3.5%
Cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes 3.3%
Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in solid form 3.3%
5.9 bn USD of products imported in 2015
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 6.6%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 6.2%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 5.1%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 3.0%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.3%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 1.8%
Insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, herbicides, anti-sprouting products and plant-growth regulators, disinfectants and similar products, put up for retail sale or as preparations or articles, e.g. sulphur-treated bands, wicks and candles, and fly-papers 1.7%
Toilet paper and similar paper, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibres, of a kind used for household or sanitary purposes, in rolls of a width <= 36 cm, or cut to size or shape; handkerchiefs, cleansing tissues, towels, tablecloths, serviettes, napkins for babies, tampons, bed sheets and similar household, sanitary or hospital articles, articles of apparel and clothing accessories, of paper pulp, paper, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibres 1.5%
Articles for the conveyance or packaging of goods, of plastics; stoppers, lids, caps and other closures, of plastics 1.5%
Food preparations, n.e.s. 1.3%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data


Main Services

1.5 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Communications services
Government services
Other business services
Insurance services
2.1 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Other business services
Insurance services
Government services
Communications services
Financial services
Cultural and recreational services
Royalties and license fees

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Last Available Data


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of Free Trade Area of Americas (FTAA)

Member of Central American Four (CA-4)

Useful Resources
General Directorate of Custom Services (Spanish)
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
The Dirección de Registro de la Propiedad Intelectual (RPI).


Learn more about How to Export to Nicaragua on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Last Updates: June 2017