Nepal's biggest garment exporter Cotton Comfort has stopped production, blaming problems in meeting orders.

Industry sources, meanwhile, have suggested that increased intervention by the trade union affiliated with local political parties and resistance from workers caused many of the firm's troubles, The Kathmandu Post reported.

"The situation in the factory was no different [to that] of the industry; conflict among workers affiliated with various trade unions," Kiran Saakha, president of Garment Association (GAN) of Nepal, was quoted as saying.

Cotton Comfort has won top currency-earning exporter awards in the last five years and exported US$9m worth of readymade garments in 2005/06.

The Post reported that, with the latest closure, the number of operating garment industries in Nepal has plummeted to nine from about 18 over the last year.