WASHINGTON — U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said Wednesday that the Bush administration plans to send a free trade agreement with Colombia to Congress in early April with or without Democratic leaders' support.
The administration has spent several months courting lawmakers in an effort to garner enough support to get the Colombian free trade deal through Congress before the end of the year. But many Democrats have balked at taking up an election year trade deal that has generated strong opposition because of assassinations of trade unionists and kidnappings in Colombia.
The administration has insisted that the pact move forward this year because there are concerns that the next president, particularly a Democrat, could pick apart or try to renegotiate it.
Congress has 90 days to consider the trade legislation once the administration sends it over under special negotiating rules that require an up-or-down vote and does not allow amendments.
"We are still hoping that the Democratic leadership will work with us on a bipartisan path forward to moving the Colombia free trade agreement expeditiously," Schwab said at a press briefing. "Given the calendar and given the president's desire and commitment to see a vote on the Colombia FTA this year, we will be forced to send it up absent that kind of commitment [from Democratic leaders]."
Apparel importers that shipped $419 million worth of products made in Colombia to the U.S. in the past 12 months, and textile producers that export millions of dollars in fabrics and yarns to the country, have urged Congress to pass a bilateral trade deal with Colombia to make the duty free benefits permanent. They are now temporary under an Andean trade pact that needs periodic renewal.
"I think they need to vote on this thing," said Stephen Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. "This is an important agreement for the economics of the textile and apparel industry...and the entire supply chain, from cotton to consumers, have lined up in support of this agreement. Whenever you have that with trade policy, it tells you it is time to vote 'yes.'"
Julia Hughes, senior vice president of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel, said her group supports passage, but is concerned that forcing a vote on Capitol Hill is a "risky proposition."
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)