A new study by a leading US trade official claims tariffs on apparel and shoe imports hit poorer US citizens more than more well-off consumers.

According to a report by Edward Gresser, a top trade analyst for a US political think tank, those tariffs also hit developing countries harder than richer nations.

He says the US price of women's underwear made from artificial fibres is inflated by a 16.2 per cent duty charge while the duty on expensive silk lingerie is only 2.4 per cent.

Gresser adds that as the government collects around 45 per cent of its annual $20 billion duty from imports of footwear and apparel, countries which export large quantities of these goods - such as many of Asia's less developed nations - pay the most tax.

He is now calling on the Bush administration to rethink its import tariffs system in order to make it fairer to less well-off consumers and countries.