Textile and apparel industry leaders from around the world have given their unanimous approval to the removal of trade barriers during top-level talks in Switzerland.

Officials from developed and less-developed nations backed the scrapping of non-tariff barriers and called on the World Trade Organisation to crackdown hard on counterfeiters who violate brand and trademark laws.

Organised by European trade body Euratex, the two-day meeting took place behind closed doors but according to sources was so successful a similar gathering has been organised for next year.

Officials from the US, UK, Japan, Mexico and Bangladesh were among the 36 nations represented at the meeting which aimed to discuss the challenges facing an industry that employs 30 million people and has an annual turnover of almost $300 billion.

However, China was not present at the talks although Euratex chiefs said today they hope it will attend in 2003.