WASHINGTON — Manufacturing and labor groups sought to raise the level of the trade debate in the presidential campaign on Tuesday, urging the candidates to focus on imbalances with China and highlighting trade-related job losses in Pennsylvania.
Citing a net decline of 207,300 manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania since 2001, the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, a textile industry lobby group, released a report on the state's manufacturing sector Tuesday. The coalition and labor officials urged lawmakers seeking reelection and presidential candidates to provide more details on how they would reshape the Bush administration's trade policies.
The fresh calls for a broader trade debate come as campaigning intensifies for Pennsylvania's Democratic presidential primary on April 22. The stakes are high for Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton in their neck-and-neck race for the nomination.
So far, the North American Free Trade Agreement, passed 14 years ago when Bill Clinton was in the White House, has overshadowed any discussion of trade relations with China. The U.S. trade deficit with China reached a record $256 billion last year.
Hillary Clinton and Obama have emphasized the importance of renegotiating or amending NAFTA to incorporate stronger labor and environmental provisions.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, continues to champion free trade agreements, saying that lost jobs will not come back and the U.S. needs to retrain its workforce.
Obama and Clinton have broadened their positions on trade as they stump through Pennsylvania, criticizing China's currency practices and tainted imports. Both support legislation that would use trade remedy laws to impose higher duties on imported Chinese products if that country doesn't reform its currency policy, which critics claim gives Chinese firms unfair price advantages.
The Democratic candidates also have increased their criticism of a pending trade deal with Colombia that President Bush sent to Congress for a vote on Tuesday. Clinton reiterated her opposition, two days after her chief strategist, Mark Penn, stepped down because of his public relations firm's involvement in lobbying for the trade deal on behalf of the Colombian government. Obama also voiced his opposition to the trade accord.
Bob Baugh, director of industrial unions for the AFL-CIO, said labor groups are pushing members of Congress and the candidates to support more punitive legislation that defines currency manipulation as a subsidy, which would ease the way for U.S. companies to seek more direct relief through punitive tariffs."Half of our manufactured-goods deficit last year was with China alone," Baugh said. "There is an issue here that we think the candidates are not addressing clearly."
He called on them to explain how they will "repair our trade regime with this nation" and how they will address "illegal activity," such as subsidies, currency manipulation and intellectual property rights violations.
"We want an honest discussion in the debate regarding China in regard to its currency problems, state-sponsored subsidies and blatant theft of intellectual property rights," said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of AMTAC. "We want a candidate to come out and say, 'We are going to look at reforms that institute a pragmatic reciprocal program that ensures U.S. manufacturers have a chance to compete fairly, both internationally and here at home.'"
“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