NEW YORK — The Intimate Apparel Council will host a seminar titled “Trade Politics and the Eve of 2005” on Aug. 4 at the Union League Club in Manhattan.

The program is scheduled for 4:30-6 p.m. and will be followed by a cocktail and networking party, said Mary Howell, director of program development at the American Apparel & Footwear Association. The IAC is part of the AAFA.

“We have some heavy hitters participating and I think we will have an excellent turnout,” Howell said.

Speakers will include two executives from the Duberstein Group, Ken Duberstein, former chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan, and Dan Meyer, former chief of staff to House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as well as Tom Travis of law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg. Travis is a veteran consultant and trade advisor to the apparel industry.

The seminar will be moderated by Stephen Lamar, senior vice president of the AAFA.

Key issues to be discussed will be:

  • What are the critical trade issues as we approach 2005?

  • How will China factor into this debate and what are U.S. and foreign governments doing to address that issue?

  • How will the jockeying for the 2004 elections affect those trade debates and what will policy makers do, if anything, to respond to and incorporate these issues in their own campaigns and electoral planning?

  • What special issues have emerged for the intimate apparel industry that may make them immune or more susceptible to trade politics on the eve of 2005?

Howell said the event should be particularly interesting to manufacturers and retailers based on the historical background of NAFTA in 1992, when presidential candidate Ross Perot warned of a “giant sucking sound” and managed to make trade an important national debate during the presidential and congressional elections of that year. Since then, however, trade debates have largely disappeared from the national stage as the economy strengthened and as Americans turned to other issues, she noted.

More than 10 years later, with dozens of new trade initiatives under consideration and with the impact of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization finally being felt, the question is again asked whether domestic politics will again mesh with international trade, Howell said.She pointed out that increased global competition and economic uncertainties, especially in the textile and apparel industries, have generated “renewed passionate debates” on the subject of international trade. As textile and apparel companies position themselves to compete during the next five years, especially in light of the phaseout of the world quota system in less than 600 days, those debates will likely become more vocal and heated, she said.

“We have already seen an early preview of this with recent debates over Vietnamese quotas, Chinese safeguards and trade agreement rules of origin,” said Howell.

Admission is free for IAC members, $90 for AAFA members not part of the IAC and $115 for non-AAFA members.

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