Baltodano: US is key to Nicaragua’s economic future

Second in a week-long series on the future of the ‘waivers’ and U.S.-Nicaragua relations. Part II: Gen. Baltodano states Nicaragua’s case in Washington.

(posted June 11, 12:00 p.m.)- General Alvaro Baltodano, President Daniel Ortega’s delegate for foreign investment, presented a convincing case in Washington this morning for why the United States should continue to work with Nicaragua to achieve sustainable social and economic development, rather than punish the country by cutting aid.

Though Gen. Baltodano did not specifically mention the issue of the waivers during his presentation at this morning’s forum on Nicaragua’s economy and investment opportunities, his message to the U.S. government was clear: The Nicaraguan economy is on the right track, don’t derail us.

Speaking at the forum organized by the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America (AACCLA), Baltodano stressed that Nicaragua’s levels of foreign-direct investment and exports have grown faster than any other Central American country, “thanks to CAFTA.”

“Between 2006-2011, our exports have grown 121%. And overall, commerce has grown 67% under CAFTA,” Baltodano said, referring to the U.S.-Central American Free-Trade Agreement that entered into force in 2006.

The retired general, who participated in today’s public-private forum in representation of President Ortega and investment-promotion agency ProNicaragua, highlighted advances in Nicaragua’s renewable energy efforts, rural electrification (up 21% over the past five years), social peace, poverty reduction, and macro-economic stability.

Baltodano also addressed the issue of Venezuelan aid, which is considered the main rub that could prevent the U.S. from extending its fiscal-transparency waiver this year. He said Venezuelan cooperation has contributed $1.5 billion to Nicaragua’s fight against poverty in the form of immediate relief.

“In the short term, this cooperation has given us an answer to the basic needs of the population—a roof, access to health, and property titles,” he said. “But we think that investment and trade are the factors that are going to push Nicaragua’s sustainable development in the long term.”

When asked about the possibility of diminishing Venezuelan aid and how that would affect Nicaragua’s future prospects, Baltodano said Nicaragua needs to attract more investment and develop more commerce so that the country can continue to grow “due to our own efforts.” Baltodano also mentioned Nicaragua’s canal plans as a possibility for attracting more investment, jobs and commerce.

Nicaragua needs Bolivar and Uncle Sam

Baltodano made clear that Nicaragua’s plans for continued economic growth and development is not based on the fantasy of an endless wellspring of Venezuela aid, rather real economic growth based on production, investment and trade. And when it comes to trade and job creation, the U.S. is still Nicaragua’s most important partner, Baltodano said. He noted that CAFTA has created more than 35,000 factory jobs just in the past year alone.

“We grew in the middle of a crisis as a result of CAFTA and my government’s willingness to take advantage of the trade agreement,” Baltodano said. “We still have the same desire to keep growing.”

Baltodano said he will not be meeting with any representatives of the U.S. government while in Washington today and tomorrow. Instead, his message to the U.S. government was delivered during his PowerPoint presentation at today’s investment forum. And if anyone from the U.S. government was listening, they would have heard it loud and clear.

“The U.S. plays a key role; it is the main partner for many countries so we should work together to unite and push initiatives that move us towards prosperity,” Baltodano said.

In other words, Nicaragua needs both Venezuela and the United States—two different countries that are fulfilling different needs in the country’s short and long-term economic growth and stability. And that’s Nicaragua’s simple reality, behind its complicated politics.

  • Carla Chamorro

    The decision to forgo all civilized support started the day Messrs.Ortega and Aleman decided to place their interests ahead of Nicaragua’s. That’s when the countdown started and the rest are just consequences.
    Thanks to the US , one more time, decency will become a striving trait in Nicaragua. Once and for all -let it be stated- and as Mr. Rubio said, there couldn’t be a normal world without the USA. That it’s the reason God gave us the US. —
    Sorry Alvaro…to late,should have thought about it before you committed treason.

  • terrance rogan

    And if anyone from the US gov was listining they would have heard it load and clear. Really? defacto csj judges, police chief, controllers and the majority of the cse, fraudulent elections, confiscations. Who is listining here?

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  • http://no Maria Zeledon

    Baltodano is correct to safeguard Nicaragua’s growth. There a some minor issues in Nicaragua which Nicaraguans with time will be able to correct. As in any democracy, nothing is perfect and change is inevitable but it is crucial to keep Nicaragua’s amazing growth in the last 5 years on track. All investments are welcome from Venezuela, USA to South Korea and so on. Throught cooperation and trade we can all prosper especially if if keep an eye on equality of income distribution and focus on the growth of the middle class.

    It’s a shame that some critics of the current government are willing to see Nicaragua plunge back in a recession for political or ideological believes.

  • Nicagringo

    General Baltodano and the team at ProNicaragua have done an amazing job attracting foreign investment in light of the negative perception that Nicaragua has for the moment. Nicaragua has great value to the global economy and it is getting recognized as a result of this governments efforts. Results matter