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Some perspective: exports as a fraction of imports


My analysis comes primarily from living in Nicaragua for several years. However I am comfortable with us looking at some referenced statistics if you wish.

Here are some detailed, referenced figures that we can use for the discussion.

GDP (2007): $5.7 billion.
GDP real growth rate (2007): 3.8%.
Per capita GDP (2007): $1,023.
Inflation rate (2007): 16.9%.
Natural resources: arable land, fresh water, fisheries, gold, timber, hydro and geothermal power potential.
Agriculture and agricultural processing (33% of GDP): Products--corn, coffee, sugar, meat, rice, beans, bananas, beef, dairy.
Manufacturing (11% of GDP): Types--textiles, paper and wood products, metal products petroleum refining, plastics.
Services (51% of GDP): Types--banking, wholesale and retail distribution, telecommunications, and energy.
Construction (5% of GDP): Types--housing and infrastructure.
Trade (2007 est.): Normal exports--$1.202 billion (f.o.b.): coffee, seafood, beef, sugar, industrial goods, gold, bananas. Free trade zone exports--$1.088 billion, mostly textiles and apparel, automobile wiring harnesses. Markets--United States, Central American Common Market, European Union (EU), Mexico, Japan. Imports--$3.294 billion (c.i.f.): petroleum, agricultural inputs and equipment, manufactured goods. Free trade zone imports--$783.6 million. Suppliers--Central American Common Market, United States, EU, Mexico, Venezuela, China.

Nicaragua also depends heavily on remittances from Nicaraguans living abroad, which totaled $655.5 million in 2006.

I would love it if we could also find the amount of religious money entering Nicaragua, the amount brought back by returning Nicaraguans not classified as remesas, the amount of NGO and government aid coming in. But even if you can't find that info (I couldn't) all you have to do is look and see that every single public project - church, market, bridge, road, police car, etc - is fully funded by foreign aid.

As to my claim of exports being minor, we are looking at a number around $200 per person of exports annually, roughly 20% of GDP.

Compare to exports of 8 billion for Costa Rica, with a slightly lower population (exports of $2000 per person, roughly 30% of GDP).

Essentially, what I come down to in the case of a fair comparison country is:

Percentagewise, In Costa Rica, exports are about 80-90% of imports. In Nicaragua, exports are 30% of imports.

Or on a nominal basis, Nicaraguan exports per person are 10% of Costa Rican exports per person.

While I do agree with you that Nicaragua's economy is growing on a GDP basis, that does not mean they have - or ever will - overcome their reliance on foreign aid, remittances, repatriation, and foreigners with hobby businesses/residence.

What do you think: Is Nicaragua becoming more self-sufficient?



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