GENEVA — The aggressive actions by Russia in Georgia and the strong condemnation by the West could derail the country’s bid to enter the World Trade Organization and put commercial relations to a test.
Russia is the world’s fifth-largest export market for apparel, after the U.S., the European Union, Japan and Hong Kong, and in 2006 was the destination for shipments valued at $8.1 billion, according to WTO data.
Francesco Marchi, director of economic affairs at the European apparel and textiles organization Euratex, is concerned there could be repercussions that may have “a serious impact” on European apparel exports to the lucrative Russian market if the crisis widens.
In recent years, Marchi said, Russia has been “a booming” export market for European suppliers “mostly in luxury, high quality and high price” lines.
“There’s a lot of interest to sell there,” he said.
But an Asian diplomat from a major apparel-exporting nation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he didn’t think the rise in trade tensions would impact luxury apparel, cosmetics and accessories.
“The world is so globalized and Russian women want to look beautiful,” he said.
The geopolitical crisis and Russia’s decision to drag in commercial issues in a bid to silence international critics also threatens to derail the country’s longstanding bid to join the WTO.
Following critical comments by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Aug. 25 downplaying the importance of WTO membership for Russia, Western trade diplomats say entry talks are likely to be put on the back burner.
Ahead of a new round of talks slated for Sept. 18, a senior Russian official, who did not want to be identified,said: “If our partners like to stop [entry talks], we would not have any objections. This session will show whether the talks will slow down, continue, or be put on hold.”
A spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said, “If Russia decides to step back from those accession commitments that it has already made, it will further delay its aspirations for joining the WTO. Russia has sought to integrate into the diplomatic, political, economic and security structures of the 21st century. The United States has supported those efforts.” By its recent actions, “Russia is putting its aspirations at risk.”
Tensions between Moscow and Washington have continued to escalate, aggravated by the decision by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last week to recognize the independence of the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and assertions by Putin to CNN that Washington had a hand in fanning the latest Georgia crisis, which the White House said were “patently false.”
However, some business executives and trade diplomats estimate that, irrespective of the Georgia crisis, a Russia flush with huge export revenues from record high oil and gas prices is now in no hurry to join the WTO, which could force the country to lower trade barriers from which it is benefitting.
“They have not been dying to join,” said a senior European Union official, predicting Russia’s accession could be put in the slow lane.
“I don’t think Russia cares too much at the moment about securing market access for their products via the WTO,” added an Asian envoy.
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
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye