WASHINGTON — Congress passed trade legislation Thursday that extends benefits to U.S. companies making apparel in sub-Saharan Africa and separately helps U.S. textile producers and apparel importers doing business in Central America.
The bill, which now goes to President Obama for his signature, also extends a ban on imports from Myanmar that was imposed in 2003 after a military junta began repressing human rights, despite the current regime’s recent reforms.
House Ways & Means committee chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) said: “I recognize the encouraging developments in Burma over the past months. Nevertheless, in 2003 Congress set out specific goals and benchmarks in the Burmese Freedom & Democracy Act, and I encourage the Burmese government to continue to address the concerns that led to the passage of the law. I also urge the Burmese government to vigorously pursue further reforms, economic growth and peaceful, inclusive governance that benefit all the Burmese people.”
Sub-Saharan African countries had been losing apparel business this year, according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, because of uncertainty over whether Congress would approve an extension of a key provision that helps firms doing business in 25 designated least-developed countries to use fabrics from outside the region and still receive duty-free benefits when shipping to the U.S. The bill extends the third-country fabric provision through Sept. 30, 2015 and adds the Republic of South Sudan to the list of countries eligible for duty-free benefits on apparel, textiles and footwear imports.
The legislation also contains provisions to make technical changes to apparel and textile rules of origin in the Central American Free Trade Agreement that was welcomed by textile mills and apparel importers.
“The AGOA third-country fabric benefit and the CAFTA fixes will not only help U.S. brands and retailers create needed jobs at home, but will also better enable these companies to provide high-quality, yet affordable, apparel to American families,” said Julia Hughes, president of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel.
It also closed a “loophole” that allowed the use of thread from outside the region that caused “American sewing thread manufacturers lost business to producers from China and elsewhere in Asia,” said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition. “By closing it, we are confident that U.S. thread producers can begin to recapture market share in the CAFTA region, leading to more jobs and increased U.S. exports,” noting about 1,800 workers are employed in sewing thread manufacturing in the U.S.
Some in the industry were disappointed that the legislative package did not include other trade measures passed in committees. Senate and House committees have each passed bills granting permanent normal trade relations to Russia, which will allow the U.S. to gain full benefits of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization this month. However, it appears the full Congress will not vote on the measure before the monthlong August recess set to begin Monday. Congress must approve PNTR in order for U.S. firms to gain benefits such as lower trade barriers and better market access to Russia.
The package also didn’t include funding for the Cotton and Wool Trust Funds or a pima cotton promotion, putting those programs on hold.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion