Nicaragua represents the “most competitive” sourcing option for a number of apparel products, even when compared to Asian countries like China, Vietnam and Bangladesh, according to a new report.

In “Benchmarking the Competitiveness of Nicaragua’s Apparel Industry”, Mary O’Rourke, president and managing director of textiles and apparel consulting company O’Rourke Group, argues that the country’s situation is sustainable and built on low costs, an educated labour pool, improving productivity, a free trade zone system, low crime levels and consistent quality and speed to market.

Also, the report says that other competitor countries are being impacted by rising costs of raw materials, while Nicaragua is currently piloting cotton production to aid vertical integration of its industry.

Nicaragua beat its projected textile and apparel exports in the first quarter of 2011, up 23.3% on the same period of 2010 to reach just over US$272m.