US brands and retailers are being urged to source at least 1% of their total apparel production from Haiti in an effort to aid reconstruction in the earthquake-torn country.

The programme, entitled Plus 1 for Haiti, was launched at the Magic Marketplace trade fair in Las Vegas by Ambassador Ron Kirk and representatives of companies including Hanesbrands and Gap.

"To continue to grow Haitian apparel exports and help Haiti's economy for the long term, additional investment in and sourcing from Haiti is critical," said Kirk.

"One per cent may seem small - but it means new jobs and new opportunities for the Haitian people who so desperately need forward-looking solutions in the wake of January's devastating earthquake."

Backing the scheme, Jerry Cook, vice president of government and trade relations for Hanesbrands, said: "We remain very hopeful that the combined effort will encourage others to invest in the opportunities and development of critical infrastructure badly needed for sustained development."

Meanwhile, Gap senior director Mark D'Sa said the company had been sourcing apparel from Haiti for some time.

"The earthquake has not changed our direction and we continue to work with our vendors in Haiti as they recover," he added. "We believe in doing good while doing well."

The initiative aims to build on the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity Partnership Encouragement Act, known as HOPE II, which allows duty-free access to the US for Haitian-made apparel and other articles.