Investor Wilbur Ross has cited nanotechnology as the key to prosperity at his recently acquired textile manufacturing company Burlington Industries.

Ross, chairman of the International Steel Group and the man behind Cone Mills buyer WLRoss & Co, said North Carolina-based Burlington was using the science to create unique products for companies including Old Navy and Brooks Brothers.

"I'm a little obsessed that we in the textile industry must increase the technology content of our product," he told attendees of the Emerging Issues Forum this week.

"In most other countries, they're focused on low-cost labour, not technology."

However, while Ross said this technological focus could be the saviour of US manufacturers, he argued "technology alone isn't enough" and called for trade restrictions and a crackdown on what he described as China's abuse of free trade rules.

Burlington products to benefit from nanotechnology - the science of the very, very small - include a water-repelling cotton fabric and a silk range called Nanocare.