Georgina Arana’s return to Managua, Nicaragua, last week marked the end of her month’s internship with the Georgia Department of Economic Development. She hopes that her internship will strengthen communication between Nicaragua and Georgia, generating contacts with representatives from Georgia businesses.

Ms. Arana approached the department to do a month-long professional internship from her research and marketing post at the Center for Exports and Investment in Managua. Ms. Arana familiarized herself with the Georgia market and companies that work in transportation services, agro-industry development, textiles and industrial technology, that could be instrumental in developing the infrastructure Nicaragua needs to increase its exports.

The internship, a pilot project for the economic development department, gave Ms. Arana exposure to Georgia’s market only months before the U.S. Congress considers the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), a proposed agreement that would eliminate tariffs on 80 percent of U.S. consumer goods and industrial products sold to the Dominican Republic and Central America.

Nicaragua exports the least in Central America, but has shown the highest increase in exports from 2002-04, and it stands to benefit from the eliminated tariffs proposed by DR-CAFTA, especially in terms of developing its transportation infrastructure, which is crucial to the selling price of agricultural exports like cheese and fruit, Ms. Arana said.

“Nicaraguan cheese has a market [in Atlanta],” she said, “Our products are very high quality and now we cannot be competitive because of the high tariffs. I’ve seen other companies process cheese similar to Nicaraguan blends and use our name to sell it,” she said. “If DR-CAFTA is signed,” the amount of cotton Nicaragua buys from Georgia in the form of textiles could also increase, Ms. Arana said, explaining that much of Nicaragua’s imports are used to develop or create the country’s exports.

In 2004, Nicaragua exported over $ 990 million to the U.S. and imported $ 591 million, making the United States Nicaragua’s biggest market

The Georgia market is appealing to Nicaragua “because there are so many Latinos in Atlanta,” she said, referring to the 2000 census, which showed that Latinos made up over 5 percent of Georgia’s population.

Nicaragua’s agricultural industry, based in meats, coffee, fruits, vegetables, oil seeds and cheese could supply the Georgia Latino population with “nostalgic” food products that “many…Latinos would want to buy,” she said.

“We have a market here,” she added “We just need DR-CAFTA to sell our products with a better price.”

While in Atlanta, Ms. Arana participated in the March 21st DR-CAFTA conference sponsored by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. She also met with customs brokers, visited the AmericasMart-Atlanta, met with the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and visited Savannah’s ports facilities.

“It’s very important to keep contact with the Georgia Department of Economic Development,” she said at the end of her internship. “It will be very important for trading in the future.”

For more information about trade with Nicaragua, contact Ms. Arana at or (505) 252-5747.