US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick has called on African cotton-growing countries to boost their domestic fabric production if they want to become more competitive under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

"It will be increasingly important for Africa to have integrated (textile) production so as to reduce the costs," Zoellick told a press conference as part of a five-nation African tour taking in Senegal, Benin, Mali, Namibia and Lesotho.

West African countries blame US subsidies for pricing their impoverished cotton industry out of world markets.

African cotton-producing nations earlier this year reached an agreement with Washington to set up a special negotiating subcommittee on cotton as part of wider talks aimed at liberalising agricultural trade.