Prensa Latina: Nicaragua, a country of opportunities for investors
By Lianet Arias Sosa (Prensa Latina correspondent in Nicaragua)
Managua, July 3 (Prensa Latina). Nicaragua is establishing itself as a country with ample opportunities for foreign investment, boosted by social and business conditions considered attractive in any corner of the world.
Last year, income from gross foreign direct investment (FDI) amounted to 1,426 million dollars, three percent more compared to 2013, according to the Investment and Export Promotion Agency (ProNicaragua).
A total of 12 economic sectors received this amount, including five fundamental sectors: industry, mining, financial and trade and services, accounting for 83 percent of the total, says the official agency on its website.
Regarding the origin of the FDI, experts point to a greater diversification, rising from 22 countries in 2007, when the Sandinista National Liberation Front returned to the Government, to 44 in 2014, with an increase of 90 percent.
According to authorities and experts, the interest of establishing activities in this part of the world has increased by companies and businessmen; but, what are the key elements capable of seducing in this Central American country?
Located within a region of confluence of different nations with high levels of crime and delinquency, Nicaragua emerges as an oasis where in 2014 the murder rate stood at eight per 100,000 inhabitants.
A police report outlines that it is the lowest rate in the country in the last 15 years and the lowest in Central America.
At the same time, plans against organized crime, domestic drug trafficking, criminal groups and human trafficking, as well as verification of firearms contribute to strengthening security in the nation.
In the opinion of President Daniel Ortega, security is a good sign for investors, but so is "the great alliance between workers, employers, producers and the government that was finally established and consolidated since 2008".
According to the experts, in addition to this reality there is also a modernized legal framework that encourages not only foreign but also domestic investment, through various incentives in different sectors of the business activity.
Results came immediately and one the most recent is the opening of plants of companies such as the Mexican SuKarne and Lala, linked to the food processing sector, whose openings were attended by Ortega himself.
The Norwegian company named Statoil also signed in May four contracts for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in association with the Petroleum company of this country, so as to work in an area of 16 thousand square kilometers of the Pacific surface.
The government of Nicaragua offers excellent legal conditions and public safety and it is a very stable nation, acknowledged the legal representative of the Scandinavian consortium, Nicholas Maden, during the signing of the agreements.
In the opinion of the presidential adviser Telémaco Talavera, reality can be summarized as follows: investors see Nicaragua as the land of opportunity.
The nation is becoming the focus of attention for investments, that is why different stakeholders are visiting the country, says categorically Talavera, who is also spokesman of the Interoceanic Grand Canal Commission.
Certainly, so far this year, businessmen from countries like Germany, Italy, Denmark and Belgium came here with the aim of exploring possibilities, and learn more about the waterway project that aims to link the Pacific and the Atlantic.
INTEREST IN THE CANAL
Attention given to the canal, which according to official data will be 278 kilometers long, 105 of which would pass through Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America, is evident also in international events.
When referring to the VI Forum of Infrastructure, Investment and Construction, held recently in China, the Nicaraguan Minister of Public Policy, Paul Oquist, said that many companies in the Asian giant showed interest in the project.
Meanwhile, in the V Latin American Investment Forum, based in London, the interoceanic waterway was described as the largest civil engineering project existing in this moment on the planet, and it attracted the attention of financial agents, companies and investors.
The total project cost is valued at 50 billion dollars and its construction is expected to last five years. Besides the waterway itself, an airport, several road accesses, a free trade zone, tourist resorts and two ports, one on the Pacific side and one in the Atlantic, will also be built.
A report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) recently assessed that the mega-project could have significant impact on the FDI inflows for this Central American country in the future.
According to ProNicaragua, the nation hopes to capture in 2015 around 1,650 million dollars in foreign direct investment inflows, not including the figures that might be generated by the canal works and the hydroelectric project of Tumarín.
Forecasts for this year are based on agro-industry growth, the continuation of renewable energy projects and on the trade and tourism sectors.
Elements of internal order as those already described, together with competitive operating costs and a favorable business climate, are likely to seduce even more interested investors from around the world.