Industrial free trade zones have been a great success in Nicaragua since their inception a few years ago and growth has been tremendous, no doubt fueled by the government's efforts to streamline imports and exports as well as to promote free trade. Based on incomplete data, it is believed that the export-oriented manufacturing free trade zone grew 60% in 1997 from it's 1996 value of $124.3 million. The Las Mercedes Industrial Free Trade Zone, which is located near the Managua international airport, is state-owned but it will be privatized soon. The 18 companies (European, Nicaraguan, US, South Korean, and Taiwanese) in it produce mostly clothing but the government is pushing to diversify into technological manufacturing. The main attractions of the zone are that Nicaraguan labor is the cheapest in the Americas and that the land is very inexpensive, but financial incentives such as total exemption from income tax for the first ten years and 60% exemption thereafter, exemption from municipal taxes, all import duties, levies, and sales taxes on the import of raw materials, supplies, machinery, and equipment play a role as well. In an effort to encourage the creation of new zones around the country, the government has passed new laws which make the creation of free trade zones much simpler.