At least 50,000 new jobs will be created in Cambodia’s textile and clothing industry after the US increased its import quota for 2003, delighted trade chiefs said Monday.

Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said next year’s quota has been raised a basic six per cent and topped up by a "bonus" 12 per cent hike as a reward for its work to improve conditions at its 250 clothing factories.

The minister said the 18 per cent increase will create around 50,000 jobs and boost export earnings by at least $10 million. Cambodia enjoyed a 15 per cent rise in its US quota for 2002.

Cambodia's clothing industry employs around 200,000 workers, most of them women, and produces apparel for leading global brands such as Gap and Polo.

Earlier this month, clothing chiefs called on the US to boost its quota by 18 per cent in the wake of a series of mainly positive reports from the International Labour Organisation which has been monitoring the country’s garment plants.