Exports of free zones in Nicaragua increased by 9.5% in the first nine months of this year in relation to the same period of 2017, the Central Bank of the Central American country reported today.
Foreign sales of the free zones between January and September last totaled 2,158.6 million dollars, compared to 1,972.2 million dollars in the same period of 2017, explained the state issuing bank in a report.
In terms of participation, textile, tobacco and harness sectors accounted for 84.8% of total exports from the free zone to September and amounted to 1,831.4 million dollars, said the Central Bank.
Bee honey (48.6%), footwear (34.5%), palm oil (33.6%), cardboard (32.1%) and fruits and vegetables (30.9%) stood out with the largest year-on-year growth in the January-September period of the current year, according to the information.
In contrast, exports of furniture linings decreased 9.4%, as a result of lower sales abroad due to the contraction in demand from the US market, the source noted.
The markets of the United States (76.3%), Mexico (6.5%), Honduras (5.6%) and Spain (1.2%) stood out as the main destinations for free zone exports in the period January-September 2018, according to the report.
Nicaragua has 52 industrial parks and 226 user companies in more than 2 million square meters, which generate 116,500 direct jobs and 350,000 indirect jobs in the sector of maquilas or textile and clothing companies that operate under a free trade zone for export, according to official data.
In 2017, free zone exports totaled 2,642.8 million dollars, 1.1% more than in 2016, according to official figures.
Nicaragua is experiencing a social and political crisis that has generated protests against the government of Daniel Ortega and a balance of between 325 and 545 deaths, according to local and foreign human rights organizations, while the Executive figure in 199 deaths.
The demonstrations against Ortega began on April 18 for failed social security reforms and became a requirement for the president's resignation, after 11 years in power.