Thailand must push ahead with signing free trade deals if it wants to become the region's leader in fashion and apparel, the Thai Garment Manufacturers' Association (TGMA) was reported as saying by the Bangkok Post.

TGMA recommends that it should sign proposed deals with Japan and the US before the end of the year to further its goal, the report said.

In addition, TGMA's new president Dej Pathanasethpong said the fast-growing Asean (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) economy was one of Thailand's top opportunities and should not be overlooked in favour of the US and Europe.

The association wants Thailand's fashion and apparel industry to be the regional leader by 2016, holding at least a 30% share of the expected regional turnover.