WASHINGTON — U.S. and Dominican Republic trade officials are hunkered down here this week in an attempt to conclude a free-trade pact.
Negotiators are hammering out key issues such as whether to extend benefits to apparel coproduced in Haiti and whether to allow apparel production links to Mexico and Canada.
Regina Vargo, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the Americas, addressing an audience of business- and trade-association executives at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Monday, claimed she is optimistic the talks can be completed by the end of the week, though she claimed the discussions have been “highly unusual.”
The U.S. plans to integrate the free-trade pact with the Dominican Republic into the recently completed Central American Free Trade Agreement with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
CAFTA will face a tough battle on Capitol Hill in this election year and there is speculation about whether Congress will even take up the trade legislation. Many Democrats have already denounced CAFTA for inadequate labor and environmental rules and the key will be how House Republicans from southern textile states will weigh the agreement in the run-up to the November presidential election.
Negotiators are working through complex mechanisms to link the Dominican Republic to CAFTA and give the country many of the same benefits the five Central American countries secured. Vargo stressed that a main objective is to consolidate into the trade agreement the benefits the Dominican Republic currently enjoys under the current preferential trade program known as the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act.
“The first principle is that we don’t want anyone left in a position that is not as advantageous as before,” said Vargo. “That has been our attitude toward the market access component of the negotiations.”
Under CBPTA, the Dominican Republic has set up apparel coproduction with Haiti along the border in a free-trade zone, and one of the outstanding issues this week is whether to extend the same duty-free benefits to apparel made in Haiti to the FTA.
“In the textile and apparel sector, Haiti is the kind of issue that suggests there is something unique we hadn’t looked at in the earlier [CAFTA] negotiations,” said Vargo. “It is important we come up with good solutions for those kinds of issues.”The other critical issue this week is “cumulation” and whether the U.S. will allow the Dominican Republic to use fabrics from Mexico and Canada and still receive duty-free entry to the U.S. CAFTA contains such a provision.
“This a technical situation and we have been aware of it from the very beginning, but there is an interest on all sides, including U.S. mills with investments in Mexico which want to sell fabrics to the Dominican Republic,” Arturo Peguero, president of the Dominican Republic Association of Free Zones, said in an interview after the conference.
He added the Dominican Republic imported $2.3 billion worth of U.S. fabrics last year. The country, which sent 758.3 million square meters equivalent of apparel and textiles to the U.S. in 2003, valued at $2.12 billion, produced 1.8 percent of the apparel and textiles imported into the U.S., according to the Commerce Department.
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