WASHINGTON — Ten senators from textile-producing states urged Bush administration officials Tuesday to deny a request from Bangladesh to exceed its 2002 limits on cotton trouser imports.
The letter sent to Bush cabinet members underscores the dilemma facing White House officials. If Bangladesh isn’t given a special exception to ship more trousers this year or allowed to borrow from its 2003 quota, then several major retailers, including Sears, Wal-Mart and Target, won’t get their Bangladeshi cotton trousers in time for fall and holiday sales.
However, if Bush officials make allowances for Bangladesh, the senators argue, the White House would renege on a promise to help flagging U.S. textile makers compete internationally by forcing foreign countries to follow trade agreements.
"The administration must not reward [Bangladesh’s] blatant disregard for a negotiated agreement by granting it greater access to the textile market," the letter stated. "The hard-working men and women who make their living in the textile industry are simply unable to remain pawns in trade negotiations."
The bipartisan letter was signed by the senators from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Virginia. Recipients included U.S. Trade Representative Bob Zoellick, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.
"It goes without saying that granting Bangladesh additional concessions, under these circumstances, will create a bad precedent and have the unfortunate effect of encouraging additional requests for exceptions to existing rules," the letter added.
Retailers are stuck because Bangladesh miscalculated its quota use after orders were taken, and in many cases, shipped. Now, an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 dozen — or up to 2.4 million pairs — of women’s, girls’, men’s and boys’ cotton trousers are being held at U.S. ports or in transit. The Bangladesh quota for these garments is 3.8 million dozen, so the limits have been exceeded by about 5 percent.
A decision by Commerce Department officials is considered imminent. One choice before them — something that has been granted the Philippines and Turkey in similar situations in recent years — would be to allow Bangladesh to borrow from next year’s cotton trouser quota, but with a penalty reducing quota the following year.It’s not uncommon for countries to be allowed to borrow quota from similar apparel categories when limits are reached. Bangladesh, under terms of its U.S. textile agreement, used to borrow as much as 15 percent from quota on category 847, which is for non-cotton vegetable-fiber trousers, such as silk blends and ramie. However, this year, quotas were lifted on category 847 as part of the phaseout among World Trade Organization members of all textile and apparel quota systems by 2005.
The senators’ letter counters efforts by House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R., Calif.), House Trade Subcommittee Chairman Phil Crane (R., Ill.), Rep. Bill McDermott (D., Wash.) and other House members to solicit administration help for the impoverished Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh dilemma also is occurring as several House Republicans from textile-producing states are fighting for reelection.
The Bush administration’s promises to help the textile industry were made to these lawmakers who feared political fallout from voting last December to renew the President’s trade promotion authority.
Erik Autor, vice president and international trade counsel at the National Retail Federation, estimated the retail value of the errant pants to be about $50 million.
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews