WASHINGTON — The House Textile Caucus is mobilizing an effort to convince President Bush to start monitoring apparel imports from China for the rest of this year.
The caucus, comprising 80 textile state lawmakers, has sent a letter, a copy of which was obtained by WWD, to members seeking their support to pressure Bush to commit to scrutinizing Chinese imports. China is the world’s biggest apparel manufacturing country and the largest source of apparel for the U.S., exporting $32.1 billion worth of apparel and textiles to America in the year ended May 31.
U.S. textile producers and their backers in Congress hope a monitoring program will act as a deterrent to unfair trading by China, which is scheduled to become unencumbered on Dec. 31 when a three-year bilateral quota agreement, which limited 34 categories of apparel and textile imports, will expire. A China monitoring program would create more uncertainty for retailers and apparel importers, and is sure to spark strong opposition. Importers are gearing to block any legislative or administrative attempts to restrain or monitor imports from China or Vietnam.
Reps. John Spratt (D., S.C.) and Howard Coble (R., N.C.), co-chairs of the caucus, said in the letter to members that they will urge the president to add China to an existing Vietnam monitoring program that evaluates whether goods are being sold in the U.S. below market value or the cost of manufacturing, known as dumping.
“By extending the [Vietnam textile monitoring program], the U.S. government can effectively track China’s import and pricing practices and be ready to react quickly if China once again threatens our domestic workforce, as well as those in many vulnerable and developing countries,” the Coble and Spratt letter stated.
The congressmen said China already has shown it is capable of ramping up imports to the U.S. and rapidly dropping its prices on apparel and textile exports, citing a 40 percent decline in prices when quotas were first lifted worldwide in 2005. The letter notes that the U.S. textile industry has identified 63 separate subsidy programs the Chinese government uses to support its textile sector.
In an accompanying draft letter to Bush, the lawmakers said the recent announcement by the Commerce Department of seizures and fines associated with 1,000 cargo containers of illegally transshipped apparel from China in 2006 and 2007 underscores the need for a special monitoring program. Their letter to the President also stated that a monitoring program can “prevent illegal trade from getting started,” saying that the existing program has served as a deterrent to illegal dumping from Vietnam and will act similarly for China.
So far, 14 caucus members have signed the letter. They plan to gather signatures until Aug. 1 and then send it to Bush before Congress adjourns for the August recess.
“If nothing else, this letter will keep the issue alive and before the President,” Coble said in an interview. “We can no longer continue the surges from China. I do not want this to be cast aside and I would favor this program being extended beyond the calendar year.”
Bush took a tough stance against Chinese apparel imports when the administration self-initiated safeguard quotas that led to the bilateral agreement in 2005, but also has chosen diplomacy over punitive action in urging China to reform its currency. Administration officials have said they will not renew the Vietnam monitoring program when it expires in mid-January.
Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.), the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, took a strong stance against China during the presidential primaries, saying he would crack down on the country’s alleged currency manipulation and scrutinize imports from China for product contamination. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the Republicans’ presumptive nominee and a staunch free trade advocate, has not addressed the issue of China on the campaign trail.
The textile industry recently worked with members of the House Appropriations Committee to include language in a nonbinding report accompanying a spending bill that urges the administration to extend the Vietnam monitoring program and expand it to include China. House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.) recently said his committee will address the phaseout of Chinese apparel and textile quotas this year, as well as its impact on the domestic industry and developing countries.�
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)