The leaders of textile and apparel trade groups in the EU and Brazil have pledged to work together to expand trade and investment between the two regions.

This closer dialogue will include a search to eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers which restrict bilateral trade, and support for an early conclusion of a free trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur.

At the signing of a memorandum of understanding in Brussels yesterday (11 December), Mr Michele Tronconi, president of EURATEX, the European Textile and Apparel Association, described the pact as a significant move forward.

"Our two industries and administrations play vital roles in the world trading system and it is crucial that we work closely together to ensure that we reach consensus on issues facing WTO and other bodies," he said.

Aguinaldo Diniz Filho, president of ABIT (The Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association), added: "We view this signature as a further vital step on a road which fosters greater understanding, a growth in bilateral trade and co-operation in achieving common positions in international trade agreements of mutual concern.

"The channels of communication now established will enable us to examine and resolve trade facilitation and other barriers and to develop strong ties in the fields of training and science."

A similar agreement to forge and strengthen partnerships was signed between ABIT and the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) in the US in May.