A European Union official has recommended that Thai textile and garment producers get their products certified as eco-friendly in order to compete within the European market.

Ambassador Klauspeter Schmallenbach, heard of delegation at the European Commission in Thailand, said that manufacturers need to add value to their products because of the forthcoming quota elimination on 1 January 2005.

Schmallenbach said: "The use of this scheme is not a mandatory requirement for market access to the EU.

"However, the option of having the product certified would help Thai products stand out to increasingly health- and environmentally-conscious European consumers."

Virat Tandachanurat, executive director of the Thailand Textile Institute, said that eco-labelling is an unavoidable part of modern global business, with countries such as the US also preferring environmentally friendly produce.

Eco-labelling is designed to restrict chemical residues and toxins in fibres, and reduce ground, water and air pollution from manufacturing processes.

About 22 per cent of Thailand's apparel exports are sold to the EU, with 53 per cent being sold to the USA and the rest to Asia and the Middle East.