The American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) on Tuesday launched a blistering attack on the US government after new data showed the industry lost 6,000 jobs in April.

The Washington-based group hit out after it was revealed textile employment fell to a new low of 409,000 in April amid fierce low-cost competition from Asia.

The group said according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the US knitting sector has lost 6,500 jobs, or seven per cent of its workforce over the last year, the most of any textile sector.

The news comes just a few days after the US and Vietnam signed a bilateral trade agreement that will see the latter’s clothing and textile exports pegged at $1.7 billion a year.

The pact began on May 1 and includes 38 quota categories. The quotas will rise seven per cent a year for cotton products and two per cent a year for wool products.

Textile and apparel imports from China soared to 532 million square metres in February from 233 million square metres in the year-ago period, with imports from Vietnam up 1,000 per cent to 66 million square metres.

ATMI SVP Cass Johnson, blasted: "These job losses were entirely preventable. ATMI asked eight months and one day ago for the US government to implement the WTO China textile safeguard.

"As of today, we‘re still waiting in bureaucratic limbo while China mounts the biggest export surge in US history and thousands more US textile workers are losing their jobs."

He continued: "As the trade figures show, all the good intentions and fine rhetoric will not save America’s textile jobs.

"We call again upon our government to live up to the commitments it has made to the industry and our workers. It's time that our government started focusing on saving US jobs, rather than helping out communist regimes."