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Nicaragua’s labor costs enable competitive production schemes for footwear industry
Nicaragua has the lowest labor costs in the region with an hourly wage for manufacturing operations under the free zone regime of US$1.09.
According to the Ministry of Labor in each Central American country, the minimum wages in the rest of Central America range from US$1.47 (El Salvador) to US$4.18 (Costa Rica). Additionally, the country’s industrial production has not only proven to be competitive in terms of labor costs, but also in terms of higher productivity levels. A small industry of around 2,000 jobs produces approximately 1.5 million pairs of shoes every year.
In 2012, Nicaragua reached its highest historical figure in terms of footwear export with the amount of US$37.5 million. According to a study by the FDRA (Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America), which recognized Nicaragua as the “rising star” of the world’s footwear production, "the country is especially competitive for the production of women leather heels".
Currently, Nicaragua’s main footwear products are cattle and goat leather footwear (loafers and high heels), synthetic sandals, rubber boots and safety boots for construction. Some of the national brands are Rolter, Tosca and ECCO; the most important international brand produced in Nicaragua is Clark’s. Furthermore, the main export destinations for footwear made in Nicaragua are the United States, Costa Rica and Panama.
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