WASHINGTON — The House passed a 10-month extension of trade benefits for Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador on Wednesday, a move sought by apparel importers and textile producers that benefit from the trade program.
The bill was approved by voice vote under special rules that limit debate and require a two-thirds majority.
The preference program, which gives duty-free status to apparel that is made in the four Andean countries and exported to the U.S., could still lapse if the Senate does not act quickly to allow President Bush to sign it before it expires on Friday. That has many apparel importers and textile mills nervous about the loss of duty-free benefits and the potential drop in orders from the region.
U.S. apparel importers shipped $1.23 billion worth of apparel made in the Andean region to the U.S. in 2007. Apparel imports from the region fell 14.3 percent on a volume basis in 2007, primarily because of the uncertainty associated with short-term extensions of the program.
Domestic textile producers also benefit from the initiative because the rules require that U.S. importers largely use American-made fibers, fabrics and yarns in the apparel they make in the four Andean countries. But textile firms have been hurt by the decrease in apparel imports from the region. They exported $190 million in yarns and fabrics to the region last year, down from $207 million in 2006, according to the National Council of Textile Organizations.
Although business groups had pressed for a longer extension, most apparel and textile companies supported the short-term extension to avoid a lapse in the benefits.
"Everyone would have preferred a longer extension, but 10 months is probably enough to give companies the comfort they need," said Julia Hughes, senior vice president of international trade at the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel. "A lot of production that comes out of the region is cotton knits and we are right at the place where companies are starting to get deliveries for late spring and summer production, which is why it is pretty important to get this completed quickly."
Cass Johnson, president of NCTO, said "There is already a business risk with these short-term extensions, which causes importers to shy away from placing more orders in the region and U.S. textile producers to lose business."
The Bush administration and many business groups have pressured Congress to make the Andean trade benefits permanent through bilateral free trade agreements. Bush recently signed into law a free trade deal with Peru, but a free trade pact with Colombia, which the administration wants, has been stymied by assassinations of union activists in Colombia.
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