China's National Textile and Apparel Council will next week hold a conference to promote the country's inland provinces as an attractive destination for garment makers.

The special symposium focusing on central China's textile industry comes as garment makers increasingly set up factories in neighbouring Vietnam and Cambodia, citing prohibitively high costs at home.

Most of China's garment and apparel makers are located along the east coast of the country or the southern Pearl River Delta, benefiting from proximity to ports and good infrastructure.

But increasingly they are struggling to find workers willing to accept low wages and land for expansion.

In China's less developed central provinces, labour costs are lower and competing industries fewer. Consumer markets are also growing.

China's textile industry association wants to support cities like Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province and location of the forum, as an industry hub.

Around 500 experts and company representatives will discuss the forum theme -'Focusing on the Central Plains: new opportunities from Chinese textile and clothing reforms'.

It is backed by the government, which launched a special policy to encourage investment in China's six central provinces in 2006.

But not all are convinced of the merits of going west, several hundred kilometres from the nearest port in Shanghai.

George Min, China manager for Taiwan's Newwide Group, says the fabric and garment maker is unlikely to invest inland.

"It's so far from our factory here in Shanghai. Transport costs will also be much higher. It would be better to expand more in Cambodia," he said.

By Dominique Patton.