On March 6, 2018, the Nicaraguan Government announced that it has, through the Ministry of Development, Industry and Trade (MIFIC,for its acronym in Spanish), launched a Single Window for Foreign Trade (VUCE, for its acronym in Spanish) pilot program, to enable international (cross-border) traders to submit regulatory documents at a single, online platform. This program is meant to increase the country’s international trade competitiveness and further simplify information flows between exporting companies and the government, bringing significant benefits to all parties involved. The announcement said:

The platform is currently being tested by several companies submitting applications for export and import permits and making payments online, without having to visit government institutions, stated Jose Adan Aguerri, Chairman of the Superior Council of the Private Enterprise (COSEP, for its Spanish acronym).

Aguerri stressed that the pilot program aims to “ensure the platform works properly before including the rest of exporting and importing companies.” He added that “this effort, led by MIFIC and the private sector with the support of the IDB and the integration of Customs, represents a great leap forward in terms of time and cost reduction.”

General Alvaro Baltodano, Presidential Delegate for Investment, considers this initiative yet another achievement of the Model of Alliance, Dialogue and Consensus led by the President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, and Vice President, Rosario Murillo. According to Baltodano, the new single window “translates into greater competitiveness, which is what our Government intends. We have the conditions, but we must continue to develop and preserve them. We have to take advantage of these circumstances and become more attractive to investors.”

Nicaragua has been improving processes through trade facilitation initiatives in order to be among the most competitive countries regionally. Accordingly, Nicaragua advanced 10 positions in the latest Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum (WEF). The ranking for 2017-2018 was 93 among 137 countries assessed; this is the country’s best position in the last 10 years. Nicaragua was also among the top three countries in Latin America with the greatest advances.

It is understood that the VUCE will tie into the Central American portal when operational to facilitate trade within the Central American Common Market and Customs Union.