Apparel Sourcing Intelligence - Worldwide

AAFA seeks CAFTA-DR implementation Czar

The American Apparel & Footwear Association has called on the Bush administration to appoint an official to oversee and co-ordinate implementation efforts for the US/Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). Kevin Burke, the association’s president, has sent letters to US Trade Representative Rob Portman and US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez outlining the implementation problems the agreement has. “When will the cumulation provisions take effect? When can companies apply for much needed refunds of duties? How will the Nicaragua Tariff Preference Level be administered? The list goes on and on” his letter notes. Burke goes on to point out the importance of getting positive results from the agreement quickly “The unusually strong and emotional public debate on this agreement has already incentivised several critics to begin looking for evidence of the agreement’s failure. A CAFTA-DR implementation czar would not only ensure that the agreement is implemented swiftly, but could act as a liaison with Congress and US businesses.” Shortly before Nicaragua finally ratified the agreement, AAFA added a warning to the president of Costa Rica – the only country still to ratify CAFTA-DR – that failure to pass the agreement soon could put operations in their countries at a competitive disadvantage with those in other CAFTA-DR countries. The proposal comes as fears are emerging that CAFTA-DR may, in practice, never deliver the intended benefits, as the complexities of implementing it provide ammunition to its opponents