The first round of textile talks between trade negotiators from the US and Vietnam has failed to reach an agreement on reducing the volume of Vietnamese apparel and garment exports to the United States.

The discussions on apparel and fabric quotas began on Thursday, despite opposition from Hanoi and leading US manufacturers over plans to limit skyrocketing imports from Vietnamese manufacturers.

The two sides are expected to meet in Washington in the coming months for a second round of talks on securing the controversial accord.

US imports of textiles and apparel from Vietnam stood at 803 million dollars in the 11 months to November 2002, an increase of 1,556 per cent over the previous corresponding period according to US government figures.

US textile and apparel manufacturers want the Bush administration to limit Vietnamese clothing shipments to the United States. Because Vietnam is not a member of the World Trade Organisation trade negotiators can unilaterally impose quotas on Vietnam's textile and apparel exports at any time.

But US retailers including Eddie Bauer, Gap, JC Penney, Kmart, Neiman Marcus and Sears Roebuck warn that Vietnam, which currently is not subject to quotas, is a strategically important source of apparel.

Vietnam's industry has accused Washington of seeking to shield its small garment manufacturing industry from cheaper Vietnamese imports. Textiles is one of the country's major exports.

The 10-member US delegation, led by David Spooner from the Office of the US Trade Representative, met with Vietnamese Deputy Trade Minister Luong Van Tu and his team to try to hammer out the deal.