Nicaragua's textile and apparel exports have increased by nearly 12% year-on-year during the first three months of 2010, raising hopes the country will be able to reverse last year's slump in shipments.

According to the Nicaraguan Association of Textile and Apparel (Anitec), exports rose 11.8% during the quarter to US$220.6m, with the volume also rising by 4.2%.

"If we achieve a 10% or 15%  increase in 2010, then we will level out the decrease we had in 2009," noted Dean Garcia, Anitec's executive director.

According to Otexa, the US Office for Textile and Apparel, Nicaragua is the 14th largest supplier to the US by volume and the 15th largest shipper by value.

For Nicaragua, the US is the main destination for exports (30.3%), followed by Venezuela (10.6%) and El Salvador (10.5%) - which between them buy more than half of Nicaragua's products (51.4%).