More than 20 million poverty-stricken people in developing countries around the world have been denied the chance of much-needed jobs because of strict quotas and tariffs on textiles and clothing, it was claimed on Wednesday.

The International Monetary Fund said "industrial economy restrictions on trade in textiles and clothing have prevented creation of over 20 million jobs in developing countries, many of which would represent a step out of rural poverty".

The claim was made in a background paper on international trade matters in which it warned that despite agreements to scrap textile and garment quotas, most will remain in place until 2005.

It also criticised developed nations for slapping tougher restrictions on garments and textiles made in developing countries than other goods made in those countries, such as footwear and electrical items.