BUSH PUSHES CAFTA: President Bush will meet with the leaders of Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic on May 12 as he begins a major push for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which faces opposition in Congress. Bush has not yet sent the controversial trade pact to Congress. The real battleground will be in the House and opposition among lawmakers from textile and sugar-producing states remains strong. There are blocs of House Republicans, including Textile Caucus members, joining a swath of Democrats who have said they will vote against CAFTA because they feel its duty-free benefits could cause further job erosion in U.S. manufacturing.
JEWELED KISS: Los Angeles-based Hot Kiss has entered into a jewelry license with accessories manufacturer Gigi in Style of New York. The romantic and bohemian line will incorporate beading, metallics and eclectic charms. It is to debut at New York market in November with initial deliveries set for spring 2006. Distribution will focus on department and specialty stores selling Hot Kiss junior denim and sportswear. Gigi in Style is scheduled to host a party this evening in honor of its 15th anniversary at Club XII in New York, where it will announce the partnership with Hot Kiss.
MALL BUYING: Rotterdam Square Mall in Rotterdam, N.Y., and Wilton Mall at Saratoga Springs, N.Y., have been bought as part of Macerich Co.’s $2.33 billion acquisition of Rochester, N.Y.-based Wilmorite Corp. Macerich, a real estate investment trust controlled by Macerich Partnership, will take over Wilmorite’s 11 regional malls and two open-air community centers. The sale includes 13.4 million square feet of space in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Kentucky and Virginia. Rotterdam Square’s anchor stores are Filene’s, Sears and Kmart. Wilton Mall’s anchors are Sears, Bon-Ton, Dicks Sporting Goods and J.C. Penney.