Nicaragua and Honduras, two large apparel exporters to the US, expect to woo large investments from foreign textiles manufacturers this year that should create over 30,000 jobs, helping offset huge trade losses during the height of the global recession.

A string of US, Korean, Spanish and Venezuelan manufacturers have committed investments to Nicaragua this year, according to Alvaro Baltodano, director of customs union agency Zonas Francas (CZF).

"We expect to generate 10,000 jobs from July to December to finish the year with 83,000," he said.

Korean apparel firm Anshol is one of the investors with plans to build a fledgling maquila employing 2,000-3,000 workers, he said. The other factories will make shoes, jeans and shirts creating 8,000 jobs, Baltodano added without disclosing names or investment sums.

Nicaragua is a member of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which has been heavily criticised exporting $1.5bn a year of apparel.

In nearby Honduras, the sector is also gaining traction.

Daniel Facusse, president of the Asociacion de Maquiladores (AHM), said three new foreign manufacturers will set up in the country this year, generating 20,000 new jobs at a cost of $150m.

He said exports are rising strongly this year, helped by improving US demand but also because of new export deal struck with the Euroepan Union (EU).

Honduras hopes the investment will help develop its relatively small textiles industry, which has $3bn in annual exports.