WASHINGTON — U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk notified Congress on Wednesday that the U.S. plans to enter into negotiations with 20 countries on a new international services agreement, which could have implications for retailers.
The negotiations will begin in Geneva within the next 90 days with 20 trading partners that represent nearly two-thirds of global trade in services. The initial group of trading partners will include the European Union, Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, China, Iceland, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Switzerland and Turkey.
“Every $1 billion in U.S. services exports supports an estimated 4,200 U.S. jobs in America,” Kirk said in a letter to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “If business services achieved the same export potential as manufactured goods globally, U.S. exports could increase by as much as $800 billion. To begin to realize this potential, we need to surmount a range of barriers that lock out, constrain or disrupt the international supply of services. An ambitious, high-standard international services agreement presents a tremendous opportunity to remove these impediments and boost U.S. economic growth and support additional jobs.”
It is a new path forward for World Trade Organization member nations, which have been deadlocked for more than a decade over a broader global trade accord aimed at liberalizing billions of dollars in trade, including services, manufacturing and agriculture products.
WTO talks on the broader accord have been stalled since negotiations were launched in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001, primarily over vast differences between rich and poor nations over how to cut agriculture subsidies.
The new international services agreement launch is considered a greatly scaled back objective that will not include manufacturing or agriculture.
But it could bring new opportunities for retailers.
“Retailers welcome the launching of negotiations on a services agreement, and hope that it can be the catalyst for a more comprehensive WTO agreement that would include the large emerging retail markets of China, India and Brazil,” said Erik Autor, vice president and international trade counsel at the National Retail Federation. “Consumer spending in these markets is growing at a much higher rate than in the mature markets in the U.S. and Europe that are still struggling to overcome the effects of the global recession and high unemployment. An agreement would include market opening in distribution services, which includes retail. As U.S. retailers increasingly look beyond American borders to reach foreign customers through brick-and-mortar, Internet and other retail channels, the opportunities to address restrictions to foreign direct investment by retailers and other barriers hindering retail operations become ever more important.”
“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