7 Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Reduce Outdated Tariffs on Outdoor Apparel
Bipartisan bill would support jobs in $646 billion outdoor industry
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced bipartisan legislation this week that would lower outdated tariffs on
recreational outerwear and support America’s outdoor economy.
The bipartisan United States Optimal Use of Trade to Develop Outerwear and
Outdoor Recreation Act or U.S. OUTDOOR Act would make
outdoor apparel such as water-resistant jackets and pants more affordable for
consumers and help outerwear retailers to create jobs, import goods, and invest
in research and development of new cutting-edge performance apparel.
Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Jeff Merkley
(D-OR), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), have cosponsored the legislation.
The outdoor industry generates $646 billion in consumer spending annually and directly
supports 6 million jobs.
Recreational performance apparel has some of the highest duty rates imposed by the U.S. government, reaching as high as 28 percent. But the high tariffs have become
unnecessarily burdensome to outdoor apparel companies now that domestic
manufacturing of recreational performance apparel makes up less than one
percent of the total recreational apparel market.
“As Congress moves towards tax reform, it’s also important that we modernize our nation’s tariff schedule to address the realities of a 21st century economy,” said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Committee on Finance. “This bill will modernize trade tariffs for outdoor apparel and support the growth of the State of Washington’s $22 billion outdoor economy.”
“The outdoor recreation industry is an integral part of New Hampshire’s culture and economy – generating $4.2 billion in consumer spending in our state each year,” Ayotte said. “Our bill would lower costs for outdoor enthusiasts and companies that sell outdoor recreational apparel, ensuring that they can continue to thrive and create jobs.”
A companion bill was introduced in the House by Congressmen Dave Reichert (R-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Greg Walden (R-OR), Jared Polis (D-CO), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), and Mike Thompson (D-CA).
“The American Dream is built on the idea of exploration and economic success, and the OUTDOOR Act works to promote both of those concepts and make them a reality,” the Congressmen said. “From canoeing to mountain climbing, Americans have found ways to enjoy the outdoors in every season of the year, and outfitting them with innovative apparel is a major job-creating industry. This legislation is a needed update to antiquated and unreasonably high tariffs set on recreational performance apparel, and more importantly it will help employers grow their businesses, remove a hidden tax on consumers, and continue to foster interest in America’s outdoor recreation.”
The legislation would
- Create new U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) breakouts for both knit and woven recreational performance outerwear.
- Change tariff rates for recreational performance outerwear to reduce or make duty-free.
- Create a Sustainable Textile and Apparel Research (STAR) Fund to help the U.S. textile and apparel industry maintain a leading edge in the research and development of environmentally sustainable technologies by establishing a 10-year assessment of 1.5 percent on the value of imports of recreational performance outerwear. A Board of Directors comprised of importing and domestic industry representatives will oversee distribution of STAR funds to entities that, among other qualifications, have more than 10 years of experience in operatin g programsthat align with sustainable business philosophies of U.S. outdoor recreation companies.
The legislation is designed to modernize tariffs that were originally enacted to
protect domestic manufacturing of outerwear performance apparel. In July 2007,
the United States International Trade Commission found that recreational
performance apparel produced in the U.S. makes up less than 1 percent of the
total recreational performance market.
American outdoor recreation companies have been at the forefront of technology and
innovation to meet consumer demand. Advanced U.S. technologies give companies the
tools to design, manufacture, and distribute textile and apparel products. In
recent years, the funding for domestic research and development of these
technologies has dropped due to a substantial reduction in grants provided by
the U.S. Department of Commerce. The STAR Fund would dramatically increase
resources for companies to continue their ground-breaking work to develop
environmentally-sound technologies that consumers demand.
The legislation is supported by the Outdoor Industry Association and the American
Apparel & Footwear Association.
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