Textile exporters in developed countries could secure billions of dollars in increased trade with the West if richer countries open up their markets, World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks have been told.

But the US has so far insisted on retaining 3% of its trade protection against cheaper imports from Asia, which is preventing large-scale exports there from developing countries.

The issue is a source of conflict between the US and the EU, and is being discussed alongside the central Doha round of trade talks.

Those talks are also considering whether the textile and garment industries deserve special treatment as the WTO prepares to circulate a draft version of a possible final Doha deal.

Turkey has called for special treatment for textiles after its own industry came under pressure from cheaper Asian imports. US trade officials, meanwhile, have conceded that textiles need "special consideration" in the current round of world trade talks, but stopped short of endorsing a sectoral.

However, the EU has so far argued against this special treatment, with EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson saying such concessions would weaken talks.