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."
“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