Textile trade discussions between the US and China are edging nearer to a comprehensive deal, according to US Trade Representative Robert Portman.

Portman today sounded optimistic that the two parties were on the right tracks and that an agreement was in sight, but admitted that there was no deal made yet.

Portman said: "We're still in the process of working through product coverage issues, growth rates. But we're getting closer. We're inching closer, but we're not there yet."

The latest round of talks, which are taking part in Washington, began on Sunday - just three weeks after the last set of discussions failed.

The US wants a comprehensive pact with China - similar to that China has agreed with the EU - to alleviate fears that the latter's escalating textile and clothing exports will badly damage its industry.

China has already been subjected to a set of safeguard quotas on its exports, which have grown rapidly since global quotas ended in January this year. Statistics show China's clothing and textile exports to the US to have leapt 54 per cent to $17.7 billion during the first eight months of 2005.