The World Trade Organisation has scheduled a Head of Delegations meeting on 3 August to discuss the pending phase-out of quotas.

Trade ambassadors from countries and regions including Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Mauritius, Norway, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the United States have been invited to attend next week's meeting in Geneva.

But industry groups have voiced concern that certain key countries - including a number of the largest textile and apparel exporting nations and those whose economies are heavily dependent upon this sector - are not involved.

Countries like Mexico and the nations of Central America are among those omitted.

Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC), said: "This meeting is a critical first step in moving towards a much needed solution to crisis associated with the quota phase-out."

"For Nepal, this is a matter of life or death. This is not a matter of one industry surviving or not but whether our national economy can withstand such a terrible loss," said Shaym Kehtani, 1st Vice President, Garment Association - Nepal.

Representatives from the Global Alliance for Fair Textile Trade (GAFTT) and Euratex met in Geneva on 26-27 July to discuss what they call "the crisis in international textile and clothing trade" in the run-up to the lifting of quotas on 1 January 2005.

The group is calling on the Director General of the WTO to ensure that as many countries as possible are involved in the discussions on 3 August.

They also reiterated their call for an emergency meeting of all WTO members in September.