WASHINGTON — President Bush nominated a new slate of members to the White House Advisory Committee for Trade Policy & Negotiations on Wednesday, with retail, apparel and textile officials included on the 25-member roster.
Named to the panel were Tracy Mullin, president and chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation; Allen Gant Jr., president and ceo of Glen Raven Inc.; Larry A. Liebenow, president and ceo of Quaker Fabric Corp., and Edward Emma, president and chief operating officer of Jockey International. Emma was named to a second two-year term.
The committee advises the administration on the direction of U.S. trade policy. Of the four nominees with business ties to the fashion industry, three — Mullin, Emma and Liebenow — are strong backers of Bush’s expansive international trade-expanding plans. Liebenow, a former U.S. Chamber of Commerce chairman, is among a minority of domestic textile officials who’ve backed the President’s trade policies, which call for eliminating tariffs on imports and otherwise promoting a trade-barrier-free world.
Gant, who is also chairman of the National Council of Textile Organizations, has joined others in the domestic textile industry in raising questions about the uneven effects of free trade on U.S. manufacturers, including textile mills. The administration is currently courting U.S. textile interests, including the NCTO, to garner support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which is expected to be voted on by Congress as early as this spring and faces an uphill battle in the House.
NCTO hasn’t taken a position on CAFTA and its members are split on its benefits. NCTO fabric makers are wary of the pact’s potential negative effects on sales, since there are limited exceptions in the agreement allowing for non-U.S. or Central American textiles to be used in garments receiving duty-free treatment in the U.S. Yarn makers in the group view CAFTA, which covers Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic, as good for business.