According to the World Bank, trade represented 106% of Nicaragua's GDP in 2021. A member of the WTO since 1995, Nicaragua's trade policy reflects its efforts to integrate into the global economy, as well as to diversify its exports to have access to larger markets. Nicaragua's main exports include gold (13.4%), t-shirts (11%), insulated enamelled or anodised wires (9.1%), coffee (7.8%), and meat of bovine animals (5.7%). On the other hand, imports include petroleum oils (16.7%), knitted or crocheted fabrics (4.5%), t-shirts (4.1%), medicaments (4%), and insulated enamelled or anodised wires (2.3%). According to IMF Foreign Trade Forecasts, the volume of exports of goods and services increased by an estimated 2.3% in 2022 and is expected to increase by 2.1% in 2023, while the volume of imports of goods and services increased by an estimated 8.1% in 2022 and is expected to increase by 2.6% in 2023.
Nicaragua's main trade partners are the United States, Mexico, China, the Netherlands, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica. The Government of Nicaragua has recently made reforms to its free zone regime to promote international trade. The country has few customs duties and non-tariff barriers. The highest tariffs are imposed on items such as tobacco, alcohol and agricultural products (corn and rice). Nicaragua benefits from a free trade agreement between the United States and Central America (CAFTA) as well as a free trade agreement between the European Union and Central America, mostly focused on agricultural products.
Nicaragua's trade balance is structurally negative - reaching USD 1.8 billion in 2021 - a trend that is expected to continue in the coming years. Imports of goods and services represented 59% of GDP in 2021, while exports stood at 47% of GDP. In 2021, the country imported USD 9.8 billion worth of goods, while it exported USD 6.4 billion. Concerning the trade of services, Nicaragua is a net exporter and, according to the latest available data, the country imported USD 855 million worth of services in 2021, while exports totalled USD 1 billion.
|Foreign Trade Indicators||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021|
|Imports of Goods (million USD)||7,242||7,351||6,986||6,545||9,826|
|Exports of Goods (million USD)||5,170||5,014||5,273||5,087||6,495|
|Imports of Services (million USD)||983||913||808||591||855|
|Exports of Services (million USD)||1,465||1,259||1,267||882||1,043|
|Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||3||-15||-3||0||19|
|Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||10||-2||6||-9||18|
|Trade Balance (million USD)||-2,370||-1,604||-1,056||-928||-1,876|
|Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)||96||94||95||89||106|
|Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||55||52||50||47||59|
|Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||41||42||45||42||47|
Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.
(% of Exports)
|See More Countries||18.4%|
(% of Imports)
|See More Countries||35.3%|
Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data
|7.4 bn USD of products exported in 2022|
|T-shirts, singlets and other vests, knitted or...T-shirts, singlets and other vests, knitted or crocheted||12.9%|
|Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form||12.6%|
|Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated;...Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion||9.7%|
|Insulated "incl. enamelled or anodised" wire,...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||9.7%|
|Cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes of...Cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes||5.5%|
|See More Products||49.6%|
|11.3 bn USD of products imported in 2022|
|Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...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||9.4%|
|Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude||5.7%|
|T-shirts, singlets and other vests, knitted or...T-shirts, singlets and other vests, knitted or crocheted||5.1%|
|Fabrics, knitted or crocheted, of a width of > 30...Fabrics, knitted or crocheted, of a width of > 30 cm (excl. warp knit fabrics "incl. those made on galloon knitting machines", those containing by weight >= 5% of elastomeric yarn or rubber thread, and pile fabrics, incl. "long pile", looped pile fabrics, labels, badges and similar articles, and knitted or crocheted fabrics, impregnated, coated, covered or laminated)||4.2%|
|Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...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)||3.8%|
|See More Products||71.7%|
Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data
To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows
|0.9 bn USD of services exported in 2019|
|Personal travelPersonal travel||55.45%|
|Business travelBusiness travel||1.37%|
|0.8 bn USD of services imported in 2019|
|Personal travelPersonal travel||20.97%|
|Business travelBusiness travel||0.53%|
Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data
Member of Central American Four (CA-4)
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Latest Update: September 2023