WASHINGTON — Congress sent a trade bill to President Bush on Friday that will renew duty free apparel benefits and could prevent major disruptions in $2.5 billion worth of imports for retailers and apparel importers with production in Africa and the Andean region.
“Everyone recognized that we should not let these programs languish and the final result is an affirmation of our commitment to our developing-country trading partners and the important role that rules-based trade can play in fostering development,” said House Ways & Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.).
The multifaceted bill could benefit companies making denim apparel in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has been losing orders because of a punitive provision in a U.S. trade preference program. The bill eliminates the stipulation in the African Growth & Opportunity Act that requires U.S. apparel importers to use a minimum of 30 million square meter equivalents of African-produced fabric annually to qualify for a benefit allowing them to also use denim fabric from other countries, such as China, and import to the U.S. duty free.
Importers had started cutting back jeans orders in many African countries because of concern they would lose their third-country fabric provision after the U.S. International Trade Commission determined there was a 9 million SME shortfall in the amount of African-produced denim fabric they used last year.
“We are pleased they are eliminating the [African fabric requirement],” said Julia Hughes, senior vice president of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel. “That is huge for having continuity in business planning for sourcing executives, and I think it will help companies look and find a positive way to shift business back to Africa.”
The legislation also establishes a pilot program in the Dominican Republic to encourage manufacturing of cotton bottoms by U.S. firms by allowing more third-country fabric usage in exchange for using a designated amount of U.S. fabric.
Importers were relieved that lawmakers extended duty free benefits to Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador, all part of a U.S. trade preference program that was set to expire. The bill would give a one-year extension of benefits to Colombia and Peru and a six-month extension to Bolivia and Ecuador, with the possibility of another six-month extension if the White House determines the two countries meet the program’s criteria. Bolivia has been singled out recently for failing to live up to its obligations in the counter-narcotics effort with the U.S. and Ecuador has been accused of raising barriers to U.S. investment.
“These programs were urgently needed,” said Kevin Burke, president and chief executive officer of the American Apparel & Footwear Association.
In addition, the bill extends for a year the Generalized System of Preferences, a trade program that promotes economic growth in developing countries and gives duty free entry to 4,650 products, including jewelry, from 131 countries and territories. It does not include apparel imports.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty