GENEVA — The U.S. presented a new conditional offer on Tuesday to cap its farm subsidies at $15 billion, down from an earlier offer of $17 billion, setting the stage for serious haggling in an attempt to reach a breakthrough deal in the Doha Round of global trade talks.
“This is a major move, taken in good faith with an expectation that others will reciprocate and step forward with improved offers in market access,” U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said on the second day of high-level meetings here.
Schwab said the reductions “are not offered in isolation and must be accompanied by significant market openings in agriculture and NAMA [nonagricultural market access].”
Major trading partners such as Brazil, India and the European Union welcomed the U.S. agriculture offer as a first step, but said it was still inadequate. Some diplomats and interest groups also had doubts whether the administration can politically deliver on the offer.
“If we make an agreement here, will the American Congress approve it?” asked Celio Porto, Brazil’s secretary of agriculture, adding the recent U.S. farm bill, which raised farm subsidies, casts doubts on the offer.
The U.S. also signaled it was committed to putting forward an offer that would encompass faster and deeper cuts for cotton subsidies, but clarified the quality of the offer would depend on what market access openings it can secure from key export markets that still have high tariffs, such as China.
“The levels we’re looking at will be dependent on market access, quite frankly, that we will see for American cotton,” said Mark Keenum, U.S. undersecretary of agriculture.
However, some top envoys from some major farm exporting nations were upset the U.S. was linking the cotton cuts, which are meant to help the poorest African nations, to market access commitments.
“Our export markets for cotton are in Asian nations, primarily,” Keenum said, adding that about half of that goes to China. “China has very high tariffs on cotton imports. So, it’s important to obtain very significant access to our markets for American cotton.”
The draft on the table calls for the U.S. to slash cotton subsidies by 82 percent, which Washington has said is unacceptable, but has yet to counteroffer. In 2007, the U.S. was the world’s biggest cotton exporter with shipments valued at $4.7 billion. Other major exporters included Brazil, with shipments worth $512 million; Australia, with $462 million, and Greece, with $245 million.
Meanwhile, the talks on industrial goods, or NAMA, remained deadlocked between key emerging countries and the U.S. and European Union.
India, Brazil, South Africa and Argentina, backed by their industries, especially textiles and apparel, are opposed to demands pushed by the EU and the U.S. that would water down flexibilities for the timing of tariff cuts in the current draft to shelter certain sectors from competition.
“No, we want to keep this right off the table,” Rod Davies, South Africa’s deputy trade minister, said in an interview.
Brazil Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said it was “a bad idea” and T.S. Vishwanath, senior director of international trade policy at the Confederation of Indian Industry, called it “a deal-breaker.”
But the U.S. and EU are under similar pressure from manufacturers to make sure that certain sectors are not carved out from any market openings.
“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