San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Free Trade Zones Recovering From World Economic Crisis

Nicaragua’s free-trade zone industry is making a full recovery in the wake of international economic crisis, according to Alvaro Baltodano, head of the country’s National Commission of Free Trade Zones.

According to government calculations,some 84,000 Nicaraguans will be employed in free-trade zones by the end of the year, thanks to several new factories and industrial centers that have opened or are in the process of opening in the coming months. There are currently75,000 Nicaraguans employed in the free zones, Baltodano said.

Nicaragua lost more than 20,000 factory jobs during the economic crisis of the past several years. But the government says those jobs have since been recovered with additional jobs added.

Baltodano said that the alliance between the government, workers and business owners has guaranteed labor stability and better working conditions, providing confidence to the private sector and contributing to new investment growth.

The Labor Ministry, workers unions and private business representatives last week agreed to a 6 percent raise of the minimum wage for the second semester, for a total 12 percent wage raise in 2010.

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