WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee has approved a $56.9 billion spending bill and instructed the administration to extend a Vietnam apparel monitoring program for a year and expand it to include apparel and textile imports from China.
The surprise move on Wednesday could be a roadblock for apparel retailers and brands that anticipated quota-free trade with China and less scrutiny of imports from Vietnam.
The U.S. textile industry has made its top policy initiative either securing a legislative solution or help from the administration to restrain imports from China and Vietnam, two of the biggest suppliers to the U.S. The countries shipped a total of $36.9 billion worth of textiles and apparel to the U.S. in the year ended April 30.
"The Committee expects [the International Trade Administration, a division of the Commerce Department] to undertake apparel import monitoring, including socks, focusing on prices of imports from China and Vietnam, and whether their state-run industries are illegally pricing products and dumping in the U.S. market," according to a report accompanying the legislation.
The spending bill, which funds Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative's Office for the 2009 fiscal year, will go to the House floor for a vote. The companion bill in the Senate does not include the monitoring provision, which means the two bills would have to be reconciled in conference. If the bills are not completed this year, the next Congress will have to draft and introduce new measures next year.
"This is a strong posture on the part of the U.S. Congress in regard to this critical issue confronting the U.S. textile industry, namely what happens when China becomes quota free on Jan. 1, 2009," said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition. "A need for this language is supported by the incredible surge that we saw in 2005 when quotas were first removed on China."
Although Commerce has not found adequate evidence of dumping in the imports from Vietnam, Tantillo said the program has served as a disincentive for producers to slash prices. The Vietnam monitoring program was initiated to see whether goods were being sold in the U.S. below market value or the cost of manufacturing.The bill was sure to cause concern among apparel sourcing executives who have been trying to recalibrate their strategies in anticipation of the U.S. lifting quotas on Chinese apparel and textile imports at year's end and the expiration of the Vietnam monitoring program. The total value of textile and apparel imports under quota from China was $8.65 billion for the year ending April 30, representing 27 percent of the total annual apparel and textile imports from China.
The Vietnam monitoring program is set to expire at the end of the Bush administration in January and officials have said they will not renew it.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast