Overseas Business Risk Guide Nicaragua

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Overseas Business Risk – Nicaragua


  1. General Overview

  2. Politics

  3. Economics

  4. Business and Human Rights

  5. Bribery and Corruption

  6. Terrorism

  7. Protective Security

  8. Commercial Disputes

  9. Intellectual Property

  10. UK Trade & Investment Contact

  11. Useful Links

  1. General Overview

Nicaragua, the largest nation in Central America, is a country full of natural resources, human capital, solid legal framework, and abundant investment opportunities.

  1. Politics

Nicaragua is a presidential representative democratic republic and is made up of four political branches including the executive branch, legislative branch, electoral branch and the judicial branch. The current government system follows the Constitution of 1987. The President of Nicaragua is both the head of state and the head of government.

The current President is Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front. Daniel Ortega came into office in 2007 and has since been re-elected twice, most recently in November 2016.

The current Vice President of Nicaragua is Rosario Murillo.

The European Union´s Election Observation Final Report states that the 2011 election operated with very little transparency and neutrality from the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE). There was no international observation in the 2016 election, on which the European Union gave a statement.

  1. Economics

In 2016, Nicaragua´s GDP was $13 billion and its GDP per capita was $2,120. In 2016, the general government gross debt as a percentage of GDP was 31%.

The leading sectors in Nicaragua include agriculture, forestry and fishing, trade, hotels and restaurants, manufacturing, and personal and business services. In 2015, Nicaraguan exports of goods and services totalled $4.8 billion and imports of goods and services totalled $7 billion. In 2016, unemployment in Nicaragua stood at 5.9%, an incredible improvement from when it stood at 46.5% in 2008.

Nicaragua has experienced considerable economic growth since 2009. In 2016, Nicaragua’s GDP growth rate was 4.7%. Economic growth in Nicaragua has been led by pro-business legislations and administrative procedures. In 2016, foreign investment totalled 1 442 million USD.

In recent years, Nicaragua has joined regional, multilateral and bilateral agreements in attempts to become an increasingly globalised country. The country is currently part of the Central American Common Market (MCCA) and has also established free trade agreements with several countries including the United States, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Panama, Chile and the European Union.

  1. Business and Human Rights

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office´s Human Rights and Democracy Report 2015 does not list Nicaragua as a country of concern.

On June 16th, 2011 Nicaragua signed and ratified the International Labour Organization’s Convention on Domestic Workers. The Convention entered into force in September of 2013, ensuring fair and equal treatment of workers, minimum wage, and adequate working conditions.

Nicaragua has ratified all of the key international child labour conventions and has adopted the necessary institutional mechanisms to enforce the adherence of such conventions. However, local organisations working on children’s rights issues such as the Nicaragua Centre for Human Rights estimate that over 400,000 children under age are working. The last published report by the government´s National Institute of Development Information reported that in 2010, 320 000 children under the minimum age were working and approximately 80% of them did not receive payment. The government has not published updated reports since.

An area of concern in Nicaragua is freedom of expression and association. There have been several reported attacks on government critics, journalists, and civil society activists.

The World Bank’s Doing Business index ranked Nicaragua as 127 out of 189 for the ease of doing business in the country. 1 is considered the country which is easiest to conduct business in.

  1. Bribery and Corruption

Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for British nationals or someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or Scottish Partnerships, to commit bribery anywhere in the world.

In addition, a commercial organisation carrying on a business in the UK can be liable for the conduct of a person who is neither a UK national or resident in the UK or a body incorporated or formed in the UK. It does not matter whether the acts or omissions which form part of the offence take place in the UK or elsewhere.

Transparency International rated Nicaragua 145 out of 176, 176 being the most corrupt, on the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2016.

  1. Terrorism and security

Read the latest on terrorism and protective security in Nicaragua on the FCO’s Travel Advice page.

  1. Commercial Disputes

Nicaragua has engaged in several treaties for dispute resolution including International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, and the Inter-American Convention of Commercial Arbitrage of Panama.

In addition, Nicaragua has the Mediation and Arbitration Law (540). Law 540 uses two alternate methods to the judicial process in order to resolve any commercial disputes that may arise.

Please refer to World Bank’s data on Investing Across Borders for more information.

  1. Intellectual Property

Nicaragua has a number of laws, World Intellectual Property Organization administered treaties, multilateral treaties, and bilateral treaties pertaining to the adherence of intellectual property rights.

The Foreign Investment Promotion Law (344) ensures foreign investors various guarantees including full protection of intellectual property rights, patents, and brands.

For additional information, please see the United Kingdom´s Intellectual Property Office or the World Intellectual Property Organization´s section on Nicaragua.

  1. UK Department for International Trade Contact

If you require more information about Nicaragua, should contact:


+44 (0) 20 7215 5000

The Department for International Trade covers Nicaragua from the British Embassy in Costa Rica. If you prefer to contact the team in Costa Rica directly, contact:

UK Department for International Trade

British Embassy San José

Centro Colón,Piso 11, Calles 38 y 40, Paseo Colón

San José, Costa Rica

Telephone: + (506) 2258-2025 Fax: + (506) 2233-9938

Luisa C. Pastor

Trade and Investment Director

Email: ukin.costarica@fco.gov.uk

  1. Useful Links

British Embassy San José


United Kingdom Government Publications

United Kingdom Foreign Travel Advice for Nicaragua

Sources: World Fact Book, World Bank, PRONicaragua, International Labour Organization, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International


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