That dollar amount results from a 46.8% increase from $5 billion five years earlier in 2018.
Year over year, total Nicaraguan exports increased by 13.3% compared to $6.5 billion for 2021.
Based on its average exchange rate for 2022, the Nicaraguan córdoba depreciated by -13.7% against the US dollar since 2018 and diluted by -2% from 2021 to 2022. Nicaragua’s weaker local currency makes the Central American country’s exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively lesser expensive for international buyers.
Nicaragua’s Best Exports Customers
The latest available country-specific data shows that 90.6% of products exported from Nicaragua was bought by importers in: United States of America (52.2% of the Nicaraguan total), Mexico (12.9%), Honduras (7.3%), El Salvador (5.9%), Costa Rica (3.1%), Guatemala (2.9%), Belgium (1.5%), Taiwan (1.4%), Panama (1%), United Kingdom (0.85%), Germany (0.81%) and Spain (0.77%).
From a continental perspective, 65.7% of Nicaragua’s exports by value was delivered to North American countries while 22.7% was sold to importers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Nicaragua shipped another 7.4% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to buyer in Asia (3.7%), Africa (0.3%), then Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Given Nicaragua’s population of 6.61 million people, its total $7.36 billion in 2022 exports translates to approximately $1,100 for every resident in the Central American nation. That dollar metric exceeds the average $1,100 per person one year earlier in 2021.
Nicaragua’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Nicaraguan global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Nicaragua.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$1.5 billion (20.2% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $976.3 million (13.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $719.1 million (9.8%)
- Coffee, spices: $717 million (9.7%)
- Meat: $707.9 million (9.6%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $428.1 million (5.8%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $359 million (4.9%)
- Fish: $331.5 million (4.5%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $220.6 million (3%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $206.4 million (2.8%)
Nicaragua’s top 10 export categories accounted for 83.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Coffee and spices represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 40.4% from 2021 to 2022.
In second place for improving export sales was knitted or crocheted clothing and accessories via a 21.2% advance.
Nicaragua’s shipments of electrical machinery and equipment posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 19.8%.
The lone decliner among Nicaragua’s top 10 export categories was meat, pulled down by a -7.2% year-over-year reduction.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, knitted or crocheted t-shirts and vests represent Nicaragua’s most valuable exported product generating 12.9% of the country’s total. In second place was unwrought gold (12.6%) trailed by coffee (9.7%), insulated wire or cable (also 9.7%), cigars, cigarillos and cigarettes (5.5%), fresh or chilled beef (4.9%), frozen beef (4.3%), knitted or crocheted jerseys or pullovers (3.4%), crustaceans including lobsters (2.9%), then unknitted and non-crocheted men’s suits or trousers (2.6%).
Products Leading to Nicaragua’s Largest Trade Surpluses
The following types of Nicaraguan product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Gems, precious metals: US$973.2 million (Up by 60.9% since 2021)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $723.2 million (Up by 0.4%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $712.2 million (Up by 40.9%)
- Meat: $659.9 million (Down by -7%)
- Fish: $325.2 million (Up by 3%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $289.1 million (Up by 5.1%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $173.5 million (Up by 14.8%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $166.7 million (Up by 4.9%)
- Vegetables: $113.1 million (Up by 26.4%)
- Oil seeds: $111.3 million (Down by -0.1%)
Nicaragua has highly positive net exports in the international trade of gold and to a lesser extent, silver and jewerly. In turn, these cashflows indicate Nicaragua’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals product category.
Products Causing Nicaragua’s Worst Trade Deficits
Nicaragua recorded an overall -$3.9 billion trade deficit for 2022, up by 6% from the -$3.7 billion in red ink one year earlier during 2021.
Below are exports from Nicaragua that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Nicaragua’s goods trail Nicaraguan importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$1.8 billion (Up by 4.2% since 2021)
- Machinery including computers: -$562.3 million (Up by 9.6%)
- Knit or crochet fabric: -$530.7 million (Up by 4.9%)
- Vehicles: -$497.4 million (Up by 39.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$471 million (Down by -4.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$444.7 million (Up by 14.1%)
- Cereals: -$327.6 million (Up by 25.5%)
- Paper, paper items: -$247.6 million (Up by 17.8%)
- Iron, steel: -$228.5 million (Down by -0.6%)
- Cotton: -$202.2 million (Up by 48.9%)
Nicaragua has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category, notably due to red ink recorded for both refined and crude petroleum oils as well as petroleum gases.
Nicaraguan Export Companies
Not one Nicaraguan corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Nicaragua. Selected examples are shown below.
- Compañía Cervecera de Nicaragua (brewery)
- ECAMI (alternative energy)
- El Castillo del Cacao (chocolate)
- Flor de Caña (rum)
- Gelateria Italiana (ice cream)
- Joya de Nicaragua (cigars)
- Kola Shaler Industrial (soft drinks)
In macroeconomic terms, Nicaragua’s total exported goods represent 15.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($47.4 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 15.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2022 compares to 15.3% for 2021. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Nicaragua’s total economic performance, albeit based on a relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Nicaragua’s unemployment rate averaged 7.518% for 2022, down from an average 11.1% one year earlier for 2021 according to statistics from the International Monetary Fund.
Nicaragua’s capital city is Managua, a word that can mean either “adjacent to the water” or “place of the chief”.
See also T-shirt Exports by Country, Sugar Exports by Country, Natural Honey Exports by Country and Top Milk Exporting Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on June 19, 2023
Forbes 2018 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 19, 2023
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average)
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 19, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 19, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 19, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 19, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Nicaragua. Accessed on June 19, 2023
Wikipedia, Managua. Accessed on June 19, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 19, 2023