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Nicaragua “En positivo”

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Nicaraguan exports reached $2.8 billion last year, an increase of almost 18 percent on the previous record, set in 2011.

Raw materials dominate the list.

But Nicaragua is no mono-culture.

Coffee - the nation's leading export - is closely challenged by gold.

Unlike several other Central American countries, Nicaragua so far has been happy to host the mining industry.

Beef is a close third.

In addition, tourism earnings increased by an estimated 10 percent last year, to about $440 million.

Not surprisingly, Nicaragua's economic growth in 2013 is likely to hit 4.5 percent, one of the best in the region, according to the United National Economic Commission for Latin America.

At the same time, these encouraging results are relative.

Poverty levels in Nicaragua have improved, but not by much.

Per capita income in Nicaragua was less than $3,000 a year in 2011, the lowest in Central America.

In addition, there remains an element of uncertainty about Nicaragua's foreign trade.

Close to 16 percent of the country’s exports go to Venezuela, which pays high prices.

In return, Nicaragua supports Hugo Chávez, who may not be able to continue in office.

A successor might continue the chavista system.

Or, there could be a new regime, which doesn’t give Nicaragua the same benefits.