Filipino garment exporters struggling to increase their sales in the face of global competition may in future target customers closer to home according to one of the country's leading trade associations.

The Confederation of Garments Exporters of the Philippines (Congep), says exporters may shift their focus from the US and European markets to southeast Asia, where there are around 3.7 billion consumers.

"In the coming months, we can see local brands in the region, particularly in Malaysia. We also hope other Asian brands will come here," Congep president Donald Dee told Malaysian national news agency Bernama.

Even though the South East Asian regions accounts for more than 50 per cent of the world's output of clothing and fabrics, Philippine garment exports dropped 3 per cent in 2002 to US$2.8 billion.