Argentina has pledged to curb a rising number of textile sweatshops operating in the capital Buenos Aires, a spokeswoman for top trade federation Camara Industrial Argentina de la Indumentaria (CIAI) confirmed to just-style on Tuesday.

"Finally, they are doing something about this problem, which has been going on for many years," she said.

Her comments come as the Buenos Aires administration announced measures to cull roughly 1,600 sweatshops where people and children work "in enslaved conditions."

The mills employ 4,000 workers from Bolivia, South America's poorest nation from where many immigrants travel to Argentina.

The state's reaction comes after an unregulated mill caught fire last Thursday, killing six Bolivian immigrants, an event which placed the issue on the national stage.

According to CIAI, 73% of Argentina's textile workers are employed illegally, and the unreported trade fuels the black market, which currently accounts for 50% of all apparel sold in Argentina.

The government will raid sweat shop mills and force them to legalise their activities within 15 days. "If not they will be closed," Buenos Aires' Production Minister Enrique Rodriguez was quoted as saying.

By Ivan Castano