US trade chiefs on Tuesday unveiled radical plans to axe tariffs on all clothing and textile imports from 34 nations in the western hemisphere within five years as part of a planned regional free trade agreement.

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said the proposals are conditional on the trading partners doing the same and come at a time when the US textile manufacturing industry is in crisis amid a flood of cheap imports.

Zoellick said the offer would promote integration in the region's textile industry and put it in a better position to compete with China and other low-cost apparel producing countries in Asia.

He described the plan as a "bold and comprehensive" offer to eliminate tariffs and trade barriers in the negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a $13 trillion market of 34 countries and nearly 800 million people.

"It is our shared hemispheric vision that free trade and openness benefits everyone and provides opportunity, prosperity and hope to all our peoples. President Bush has made the FTAA a top US priority, and today we deliver with bold proposals to lower barriers throughout the region," he said.

"The United States has created a detailed roadmap for free trade in the western hemisphere - we’ve put all our tariffs on the table because free trade benefits all and brings us closer together as neighbours."

The proposals cover all types of products ranging from chemicals and mining equipment to food, steel and wood products.