Garment exporters in the Philippines say they are optimistic that the industry will recover in 2002 as buying picks up again after the September airline attacks on the US.

Clothing, along with electronics, are the country's main export earners, with the terrorist attacks on the its biggest buyer triggering a 21.3 per cent fall in garment export earnings to $184.38 million in September.

But industry chiefs say order levels are now returning to normal with many garment exports having to work overtime in order to meet orders that were cancelled in the wake of the attacks.

Donald Dee, president ofYarn Ventures Resources Inc, said: "From the projected negative 2.5 to three per cent growth this year, I expect the industry to recover in 2002.

"How high would the growth be would mainly depend on the upturn of the US market. This necessitates most of the companies to work during the Christmas holidays because of their export commitment."