An eight-year ban on opening new ready-made garment and textile factories could soon come to an end as officials at The Ministry of Finance and Industry begin to investigate re-opening the sector to local and foreign investors.

The decision has been prompted by World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules requiring member states to tear down financial and trade barriers, and federal government offices and clothing factory owners are now being asked for their comments on the re-opening of the garment industry to new investment.

Ministry sources questioned by the Gulf News said they are looking at a partial removal of the restrictions before they completely end the ban on new projects in this sector.

Excessive production and dumping complaints prompted the UAE to suspended licenses for new clothing factories in 1994. At the same time it also set export quotas for factories.

According to official statistics there are around 150 garment factories and 57 textile plants in the UAE, most of which are located in Dubai and Sharjah.