President Bush's point man on trade, Rob Portman, has an ambitious 2006 agenda, including reducing global tariffs, negotiating for new free-trade agreements and implementing the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
WASHINGTON — President Bush's point man on trade, Rob Portman, has an ambitious 2006 agenda, including reducing global tariffs, negotiating for new free-trade agreements and implementing the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
The most important item on the overall trade front may be the World Trade Organization's Doha talks, which have stretched across four years, and are intended to reduce most tariffs, including those on apparel, textiles and cotton. The negotiations are coming up against their first real deadline in the expiration of Bush's Trade Promotion Authority in July 2007. The authority, which might not be renewed, gives trade deals a chance to go through Congress without any amendments.
"Time's running short," Portman, the U.S. Trade Representative, said during a meeting with reporters Friday. "We cannot let this opportunity pass. It's a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reduce tariffs, trade-distorting subsidies, increase economic growth and help the developing world."
Portman is scheduled to be in Davos, Switzerland, this week at a trade ministers meeting on the Doha talks.
"A watered-down Doha round is not satisfactory," he said. "It's not acceptable. 'Doha Lite' doesn't work."
Perhaps the most immediate concern for apparel and textile producers and importers is the implementation of CAFTA, which is intended to ease the flow of goods between the U.S., Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Portman said it was possible that one country would be ready to have the agreement take effect with the U.S. on Feb. 1, though it was more likely to happen with one or more countries on March 1.
The sticking points are generally in the agricultural area and not the textile and apparel side deals to the agreement, which Portman must submit to Congress for approval after countries implement the pact. Those deals, such as one stipulating that pocketing and lining must be produced in one of the countries in the agreement, won't necessarily have to be held up until all the countries are ready to implement CAFTA.
"I don't think we need to wait," Portman said.
In addition, a free-trade agreement with Bahrain is being implemented, another deal was signed with Oman last week and the administration told Congress it planned to sign a pact with Peru. Portman also wants to begin negotiations with other countries, perhaps South Korea."With regard to [South] Korea, we have made great progress in the last four or five months on a number of different trade issues to be able to better lay out the groundwork for a free-trade agreement and it's our seventh biggest trading partner," he said.
Should a deal with South Korea come to fruition, it would be the largest such pact since the North American Free Trade Agreement. Negotiations for free-trade agreements with Malaysia, Switzerland and Egypt are also possible.
"Typically, the Congress has dealt with one [free-trade agreement] a year, if that, and I'm talking about asking Congress to deal with a few this year and maybe more, and that's going to be tough to our legislative process, but we are going to move more aggressively," Portman said.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)