The Technical Barriers to Trade Chapter of CAFTA-DR requires that Nicaragua build on the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade to promote transparency, accountability, and cooperation on standards and regulatory issues. The Ministry of Development, Industry, and Trade leads government efforts to develop standards under the CAFTA-DR guidance. It is primarily a top-down government-driven approach. Under the current political environment, the government does not consider business input, although private sector members sit on a National Standards and Quality Commission. Implementation is arbitrary and capricious, in particular by customs officials.
The Technical Standards and Quality Law establishes a National Standards and Quality Commission, including public and private sector members, to develop standards and regulations. The Ministry of Development, Industry, and Trade serves as secretariat for the Commission. The Ministry of Development, Industry, and Trade’s Normalization and Metrology Department is in charge of managing and supervising the work of standardization and regulation at the national level.
Testing, Inspection, and Certification
The Technical Barriers to Trade Chapter of CAFTA-DR requires that Nicaragua recognize conformity assessment bodies located in the United States on terms equivalent to those located in Nicaragua. The accredited Conformity Assessment System is made up of 16 test laboratories, two calibration laboratories, and three inspection bodies.
Publication of Technical Regulations
The Technical Standards and Quality Law (1996/219) establishes the Ministry of Development, Industry and Trade, National Accreditation Office, as the government entity responsible for accrediting standards certifying organizations. Nicaragua is a signatory of multilateral recognition agreements with the Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) and with the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) for the testing laboratory scheme and Inspection Bodies.
The Ministry of Development, Industry, and Trade and the Normalization and Metrology Office publish Obligatory Nicaraguan Technical Standards as well as Standards Subject to Public Consultation. The National Standards and Quality Commission is the coordinating body for policies and programs on technical standardization.
Public consultation of Nicaraguan standards and technical regulations last for 60 days as established by Nicaraguan regulations; however, at the request of national or foreign stakeholders, the period can be extended up to 30 more days. The Information and Notification Office is responsible for putting into practice the transparency provisions contained in the Technical Barriers to Trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreements and current national legislation. It publishes public consultations and receives and processes the observations of interested parties.
U.S. companies can contact the following offices from the Ministry of Development, Industry, and Trade:
National Accreditation Office
+505 2248-9300 x 1325
U.S. companies can also contact the Economic Section at the U.S. Embassy in Managua:
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration employs an expert in standards responsible for Latin America. This expert is based in Mexico City:
Commercial Officer/Standards Attaché
Office of Standards Liaison for Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico
Use ePing to Review Proposed Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment Procedures
The ePing SPS&TBT platform (https://epingalert.org/), or “ePing”, provides access to notifications made by WTO Members under the Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), distributed by the WTO from January 16, 1995 to present. ePing is available to all stakeholders free of charge and does not require registration unless the user wishes to receive customized e-mail alerts. Use it to browse notifications on past as well as new draft and updated product regulations, food safety and animal and plant health standards and regulations, find information on trade concerns discussed in the WTO SPS and TBT Committees, locate information on SPS/TBT Enquiry Points and notification authorities, and to follow and review current and past notifications concerning regulatory actions on products, packaging, labeling, food safety and animal and plant health measures in markets of interest.
Notify U.S., operated and maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) since 2003 to distribute and provide access to notifications (and associated draft texts) made under the WTO TBT Agreement for US stakeholders, has reached its end of life. Per obligation under the TBT Agreement, each WTO Member operates a national TBT (and an SPS) Enquiry Point. National TBT Enquiry Points are authorized to accept comments and official communications from other national TBT Enquiry Points, which are NOT part of the WTO or the WTO Secretariat. All comment submissions from U.S. stakeholders, including businesses, trade associations, U.S domiciled standards development organizations and conformity assessment bodies, consumers, or U.S. government agencies on notifications to the WTO TBT Committee should be sent directly to the USA WTO TBT Inquiry Point. Refer to the comment guidance at https://tsapps.nist.gov/notifyus/data/guidance/guidance.cfm for further information.