Agriculture is the main component of Nicaragua's economy, with coffee, sugar, bananas and meat the principal exports. Maize, beans and rice are grown for domestic consumption. The principal manufacturing industries are food, drinks, the production of chemicals and oil refining. There is also a small mining industry working deposits of gold, silver, lead and zinc.
Nicaragua is the poorest country in Latin America. Half the population lies below the World Bank poverty line, although some progress on reducing poverty was made under the presidency of Enrique Bolaños Geyer.
In 2001, Nicaragua was a beneficiary of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative which wrote off part of the debt. It reached completion point in January 2004, resulting in an 80% reduction in external debt. Annual growth in 2009 was -2.9% and inflation was 4.3%.
Nicaragua signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2004. This came into force between the USA and Nicaragua in April 2006.