Brazil's textile and clothing industry has filed a safeguard petition against products that account for 82% of its total apparel imports, in a move that could lead to quotas or additional tariffs on shipments into the country.

The Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association (Associacao Brasileira da Industria Textil e de Confeccao or ABIT) filed the petition with the government at the end of last month, following an eight-month investigation that generated 2,000 pages of data.

The industry is now waiting for the government to start the investigation, although no date has yet been set.

"We are confident that our process is concrete, was very well substantiated, fulfils item by item the WTO rules and actually proves the outbreak of imports and consequent loss to our industry," said ABIT president Aguinaldo Diniz Filho.

The safeguard petition covers 60 textile products that account for 82% of total clothing imports into Brazil.

Safeguards are a trade defence measure permissible under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, and allow the temporary imposition of duties or quotas on products that are found to have caused "market disruption" or local market losses as a result of increased trade.

The rules require evidence of a surge in imports in a given category, evidence that this has harmed an importer's economy in the category concerned, and that a directly harmed party petitioned for safeguards.

ABIT says clothing imports have surged by 240% in volume in the five years from 2007 to 2011, and that growth of 42% was seen from 2010 to 2011. It says this is partly due to Asian countries seeking alternative markets for their surplus production after a slowdown in orders from US and EU markets.

"We are not against imported products," says Diniz Filho. "We are against predatory Asian imports and against [the] immense tax burden that made our industry infeasible, aggravated by the valued Brazilian real and the forcibly devalued yuan.

"Any investment will not make the slightest difference in these conditions. We cannot stand idly by. We will fight until the end, because we have 1.5 million workers on our side. It is our duty to preserve the jobs in our country."