MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA — Colombia has introduced a $5 a kilo temporary duty for all textile, garment and footwear imports to tame a flood of sub-valued Chinese imports into the country, which have risen 200 percent since 2010, according to Carlos Eduardo Botero, executive president of top industry association Inexmoda.
“The measure has been signed and will come into effect next week,” Botero said in an interview on the sidelines of the Colombiatex textiles fair held here until Friday.
“We hope this will help restrain subvalued exports from Asia which have been hurting our local industry for years,” said Botero.
According to Botero, Chinese imports soared by up to 50 percent last year and have been increasing at similar rates for the past three years. Overall, the Asian country accounts for 53 percent of Colombian apparel imports with India following closely behind with a 10 percent share.
Underscoring the impact Asian imports have had on Colombia’s local market, Botero said Colombia’s export/import balance is now 1-to-1.
“Five years ago, for every $1 we imported, we exported $5,” Botero said.
The $5 tariff will last one year and apply to all countries that import to Colombia outside free trade accords. To even things out for “legal exporters,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the state will lower its fixed textile and apparel duty to 10 percent from 15 percent.
The new duty is the first of its kind Colombia has introduced in 30 years, observers said.
The industry applauded the measure, saying it was time the government responded to Asia’s “unfair” competitive practices which have triggered 50,000 job losses since 2008 as hundreds of local apparel firms have been forced to close, encouraging many companies to transform into exporters.
Juan Carlos Cadavid, president of Colombia’s beleaguered, yet largest textiles company Fabricato, welcomed the measure, saying: “It was crucial for the government to introduce a duty that would provide a more equal competitive landscape. This will be sufficient to reduce Chinese imports to more sustainable levels.”
Botero said Bogota has also agreed to fight the subvalued and contraband textiles trade by toughening up customs raids against organized and drug-related crime groups who bring in the undervalued Chinese products. Drug groups also use the industry to launder money, Botero added.
“The government has pledged to begin working on this which is key to increasing our competitiveness,” Botero noted.
Colombia’s textiles and apparel industry, worth over $10 billion, has also asked the government to lower energy prices to help slash manufacturing costs.
According to Botero, Colombian electricity prices are among the highest in the region and above some U.S. states.
“They are probably even double those of North Carolina, which is a U.S. textiles state,” he said.
The industry has also requested the state remove import taxes for imported textile machinery to make them more affordable for local producers to modernize their production chains.
Despite the Chinese, Colombia’s textiles industry’s outlook appears bright for 2013, Botero said. Local apparel sales should rise 8.8 percent and maybe more depending on the new duty’s efficiency. Meanwhile, buoyed by rising demand from the U.S. (stemming from the signing of a free trade accord last May) and rising demand from key markets in Venezuela and Ecuador, exports should leap 10 percent to $1.5 billion this year, according to Ricardo Vallejo, vice-president of export promotion agency Proexport.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
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