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Editorial

Known in the region as the country of lakes and volcanoes, Nicaragua continues to prove that it has more to offer than stunning landscapes and good surf. The country´s thriving mining, fishing and agricultural sectors, continuous direct foreign investments and its strategic expansion of exports contributed to a steadily growing GDP even through the global financial crisis, peaking at 5.1% in 2011. Although this rate has decreased in recent years with a 4.3% growth expected in 2017, Nicaragua´s economic growth levels still lie above the Central American average.

Among the country’s emerging energy, agricultural and real estate markets, tourism is also beginning to play a crucial role in Nicaragua’s upward trend and is attracting an ever growing number of foreign investors and hospitality projects across throughout the country, with the highest investment activity clearly being observed in the Rivas municipality on the South Pacific Coast. Due to the buoyancy of various industry sectors, employment rates have consistently increased, bringing with it growing private consumption rates and stronger economic activity.

However, the shifts in US migration and trade policies; the ebbing of Venezuelan economic support, and cooling Chinese interest in a Nicaraguan canal project might all impact the positive developments of recent years. Additionally, the risk of US sanctions was heightened as a result of the re-election of Daniel Ortega, who is now serving the third consecutive term after an election that has drawn international criticism for irregularities, including the alleged manipulation of the electoral system and the Supreme Court’s exclusion of opposition candidate Luis Callejas from the ballot.

If such a vision paints a somewhat negative picture of Nicaragua’s economic future, these preoccupations are not yet tangible in the legal market. Quite the opposite, Nicaragua’s legal landscape is consistently becoming more sophisticated, albeit that real estate, corporate finance and IP practices demonstrated the strongest growth: in 2016, both BLP and García & Bodán opened their second offices in the Rivas region to meet the increasing demand for real estate advice in the coastal region; the latter even expects to open a third office, in Tola, by the end of 2017.

All the key regional players, such as Arias, Consortium Legal, Aguilar Castillo Love, BLP, Lexincorp and Central Law Nicaragua have established a strong presence in the country. However, they continue to face a stiff challenge from well-established domestic firms: Alvarado y Asociados remains one of the strongest service offerings for corporate and finance advice, while Guy José Bendaña-Guerrero & Asociados dominates Nicaragua’s IP sphere.

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