Delegates at the annual Beltwide Cotton conference were told yesterday that a surge in cheap imports from Asia were mostly to blame for the demise of the US textile industry.

At least 100 textile plants have closed and 60,000 workers - around 10 per cent of the industry workforce - have lost their jobs following an 80 per cent surge in textile imports from Asian countries, industry officials said.

Anderson Warlick, president and chief executive of textile mill Parkdale Inc, painted a gloomy picture and named Pakistan, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and Taiwan as the main culprits.

"Because of pressure from abnormally low priced Asian imports, prices for US textile products have plummeted since 1997," he said.

"Over the last 12 months, the textile crisis has intensified as Asian currencies have continued to fall. The industry is now suffering its worst downturn in 50 years."

He added: "A strong US dollar policy has contributed to an unprecedented three-year period of deflationary price cuts for US textile products."