GENEVA — El Salvador’s goods exports grew almost 50 percent from 2009 to 2015, spurred largely by gains in export shipments of apparel to the preferential access U.S. market, a report by the World Trade Organization said.

The structure of El Salvador’s exports changed, the report said, as the percentage of textiles and apparel increased to 37.4 percent in 2015, up from 28.2 percent in 2009, excluding maquila-related exports. In the case of maquila industry (located in free zones,) textiles and apparel accounted for 82.5 percent of the total, up from 79.6 percent in 2009, it noted.

Overall, non-maquila exports rose to $4.3 billion in 2015, while the growth of maquila exports $1.1 billion, said the report compiled for a two-day review of El Salvador’s trade regime by WTO members that ended Friday.

Major exports, the report said, included items of apparel, knitted or crocheted, which in 2015 accounted for 24.8 percent share of non-maquila exports, and non-knitted or crocheted apparel for 4.6 percent share.

During the review session, WTO members commended El Salvador’s robust export performance.

“El Salvador has continued on a path toward integration into the global economy…and implementing policy reforms to attract investment, promote and facilitate trade,” said Christopher Wilson, deputy chief of the U.S. mission to the WTO. “The United States and El Salvador continue to enjoy a strong economic and trade relationship.”

In 2015, bilateral trade in goods was $5.8 billion, Wilson noted.

Tharsis Salomon Lopez Guzman, El Salvador’s minister of economy, told delegates that economic growth last year expanded 2.5 percent and also pointed out that the government was continuing with economic reforms, and in February of this year also ratified the WTO’s trade facilitation agreement.

The European Union delegation lauded El Salvador’s law on legal stability for investments enacted in January 2015, which it said “assures investors of legal certainty and aimed at putting foreign investors and domestic operators on the same level.”

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