Industrial production in Nicaragua  reached its zenith in 1978 under Anastasio Somoza, who encouraged industrial expansion in Managua at the expense of the environment, especially Lake Xolotlán.
Investment policies of the time exonerated industries from the need to worry about environmental protection. Industry—even agro-industry—has been underdeveloped in the years following the revolution.
There is a small amount of production for domestic and regional markets, including cement processing, petroleum refining, and some production of plastic goods.
Another aspect of Nicaragua’s export industry is the steadily increasing number of zonas francas (free trade zones) near Managua , Sébaco, Masaya , and Granada , where tens of thousands of Nicaraguans are employed in foreign-owned sweatshops.