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.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over the top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty