Honduran apparel exports showed an increase of 234 per cent during the period 1994-1999, from $646m to $2.1bn. Likewise, exports in volume increased 415 per cent from 19.2 million dozens in 1994 to 99 million dozens in 1999, the Caribbean Update reported.

The Honduran Maquila Association said that cumulative investment in the maquiladora (assembly for export) industry in 1999 amounted to $1.08bn, up 15 per cent from the 1997 figure. The maquila industry generated about $551m in value added revenue in 1999, and it is expected that this amount will increase by 20 per cent by the end of 2000.

120,000 workers are employed in this sector, and it is expected that this number will double in the next five years. A maquila worker earns on average twice the minimum salary established by the Government. Ten new maquilas had been expected to open in the upcoming months to take advantage of enhanced Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) benefits; however, if large, across-the-board wage increases demanded by unions are granted, new investment could look elsewhere and even existing plants could close.