WASHINGTON — A Senate committee took a step forward in considering a free trade agreement with Peru last week, but the fate of three other pending pacts with Panama, Colombia and South Korea remain uncertain.
While Peru is on a faster track for Congressional consideration, the trade deal with South Korea appears completely off the table this year and the trade agreement with Colombia faces many hurdles.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, who held a pro-trade rally with business groups last week, said his priorities include moving the three Latin American FTAs forward, but placing "on hold" implementation of the deal with South Korea.
"Our agreement with South Korea is important, too, but implementation is on hold until the [South] Korean government fully conforms with its regulation of trade in beef products to internationally recognized standards," Grassley told the business groups. "The focus for the foreseeable future is on our trade agreements with Latin America."
The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the agreement with Peru last Tuesday, which it plans to follow up on quickly with markups and a committee vote.
Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.), committee chairman, told reporters the committee is "going to move expeditiously" on the Peru agreement, adding he expected it to "pass without difficulty," at least in committee.
Many trade veterans said that while the Peru agreement appears to have the most bipartisan support in Congress and the best chance for passage, its prospects are clouded somewhat because of deep divisions within the Democratic party over trade.
Echoing the sentiments of many colleagues, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) said: "The Peru free trade agreement is a really tough one for me. In fact, any free trade agreement right now in Michigan is really tough.
Stabenow said the American public has lost confidence in trade policy because hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs as companies move offshore and workers do not receive enough federal assistance in the aftermath.
"It's [the Peru deal] an important step forward, but right now it's words on paper and having the right words on paper is not enough when people are losing their jobs," said Stabenow. "My position is that before we go any further, we've got to get our trade policy right. We can no longer say 'Pass this trade agreement. We'll fix it. We'll enforce it. We'll deal with it later.'"Stabenow said Congress must first pass three bills: an expansion of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program that helps workers displaced by trade; a bill targeting undervalued currencies, notably China's, with punitive tariffs, and legislation strengthening enforcement of existing trade deals.
House Ways & Means chairman Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.) said in August he would make consideration of Peru a top priority after receiving commitments from Peruvian President Alan Garcia that there will be changes in the country's labor and environmental laws.
Importers, who brought in $873 million worth of apparel from Peru for the year ended July 31, receive a duty free advantage when making apparel in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia under a current U.S. trade preference program, but Congress must vote to periodically renew it. The FTA would make the benefits permanent and give U.S. companies reciprocity when exporting to Peru.
There is widespread opposition on Capitol Hill, as well as by organized labor, to the Colombia trade deal because of the assassinations of labor leaders in that country and paramilitary actions.
"Our priorities will be strong opposition to the [South] Korean and Colombian agreements," Thea Lee, policy director of the AFL-CIO, told senators at the hearing last week.
Lee acknowledged that the Peru trade deal "represented significant progress" in labor and environmental standards, but said the union would not "advocate for passage" because it fell short in several areas, such as procurement and the outsourcing of jobs.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye