A LITTLE HELP: Fashion companies are asking the Italian government for a break in these trying economic times. Sistema Moda Italia, a consortium of more than 1,500 Italian textile and fashion firms, said its representatives met Monday with Industry Minister Antonio Marzano and laid out a series of proposals, including tax breaks for small companies, coordinated promotion for Italian goods and a crackdown on counterfeit goods. SMI said the ministry has agreed to set up a committee to evaluate the requests and implement them accordingly.

DEADLINE EXTENSION: The Securities and Exchange Commission has been granted three additional months to file a claim against bankrupt Kmart Corp., should it choose to do so. The federal bankruptcy court handling the Kmart case gave the SEC until Oct. 29 to put forth a claim, versus the original July 31 deadline. The extension doesn’t preclude additional extensions from being requested or granted.

RECRUITMENT CHANGE: Advance Magazine Publishers Inc., whose divisions include WWD parent Fairchild Publications, Condé Nast Publications, the Golf Digest Cos., Parade Publications and CondéNet, has eliminated its centralized recruiting department for general staffing after trying it for four months. "The majority of that recruiting will be best handled at the local level," said a spokeswoman for Advance. AMPI will retain a small group to handle research and general candidate sourcing. Pammy Brooks, who had headed the centralized recruitment department, will work with that team. The spokeswoman declined to divulge how many jobs were affected but said some people were reassigned. Centralized recruiting handled general staffing, as well as marketing and ad sales posts, but didn’t recruit at the executive level, publishers or editors in chief.

VIETNAM NTR CONFIRMED: The House was expected to defeat an attempt Tuesday night to end Vietnam’s normal trade relation status, which President Bush renewed last month. With NTR, Vietnam is eligible to receive low U.S. duties given to most trading partners. Vietnam, although still representing just 0.17 percent of the apparel and textiles imported into the U.S., has seen U.S. shipments surge this year by 199 percent. Vietnam must face annual renewal of its trade status because it’s a non-democratic country and the President must certify that it allows its citizens to emigrate.

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