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.
Exclusive: Nicola Formichetti is parting ways with @diesel after nearly four years. Formichetti, who served as Lady Gaga’s stylist in 2009, joined Diesel in 2013 as creative and artistic director. His first show debuted in Venice with a show held at the Venetian Arsenal. #wwdfashion #wwdnews
The polo shirt - an icon of preppy style - is roaring back into fashion in many creative guises, like this A-line polyester top from @carven, worn with @31philliplim cotton and elastane pants. Designers stretched a fashion classic into all kinds of new permutations this season. See how @mayteallende styled the preppy trend on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📸 : Kinya)
(Market Editors: @andrew_shang and @elmercer, Makeup: @amandawilsonmakeup using @fentybeauty, Hair: @gonn24, Model: @bara_holotova at @women360mgmt)
“I do like period [projects] a lot because I like creating those worlds, a world that is different from today," costume designer Mark Bridges said about the '50s British couture featured in @phantomthread. Bridges created the overall aesthetic and individual fashion looks for the film, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps. Pictured here is a gown he designed for Krieps who plays Alma – the love interest of Day-Lewis' character, Reynolds Woodcock. #wwdfashion
@prada is embracing the holiday season with a series of short movies about the art of gift-giving. "The Postman's Gifts", which was directed by American filmmaker Autumn de Wilde, focuses on the brand's signature Prada Galleria bag and features Elijah Wood as the postman. In the first two episodes, Wood's delivers the iconic bag to @emmaroberts, who plays herself as a movie star, and Sasha Frolova. #wwdfashion
“I think I never met the person while we were working,” Vicky Krieps said of Daniel Day-Lewis, who she plays the love interest of in “Phantom Thread.” Day-Lewis remained perennially in character, so much so that she feels she’s just meeting him now. “It’s interesting to see how different he is in real life to the character,” Krieps said. WWD sat down with the 34-year-old actress to talk about her new role in the period film, which brings the fifties’ gender dynamics into the mix. Read more on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
@gucci has expanded its “Places” project to include six new cities. The initiative, which was first unveiled in July, aims to invite people to explore inspirational locations for the brand. On the list is the Biblioteca Angelica library in Rome pictured here. See the other five new venues on WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @massimo_listri_official)
#ad From tools to lashes, WWD rounded up wellness and beauty products guaranteed to take your skin care and makeup routines to the next level in 2018. Follow along as @laceandleatherbyelyse, @ashnfashn and @elleisalwayshere experiment with these products on their Instagram profiles and blogs. #NewYearBetterYou
Blogger @camilacoelho is one of the fastest growing beauty influencers around the world. The bilingual blogger has worked with brands like @revolve Beauty, @dior, @louisvuitton and more and has an Earned Media Value of $34,338,441, according to @tribedynamics. But Coelho isn’t the only influencer making a major impact — head to WWD.com to see the other fastest-growing influencers in six key global markets. #beautyfridays (📷: @zefashioninsider)