2020 Policy Platform

I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

When you see someone wearing a Patagonia jacket, carrying an L.L.Bean backpack or hauling gear in a Thule cartop carrier, you get a small glimpse into their lifestyle and values. When you read about BioLite or LifeStraw developing lifesaving technologies, you understand the potential for innovation in the outdoor industry to improve individual and public health in communities around the world. When you visit a neighborhood park funded and built by The North Face or participate in one of REI’s social media campaigns to #OptOutside or #GetOutTheVote, you feel the community and global impact that — in addition to bottom-line profits — underpin the ethos of those companies.

For more than 30 years, Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has unified the voices of more than 1,200 small and large companies — and their millions of consumers — across the United States to promote policies and programs that create jobs, invest in local and national recreation infrastructure and foster a sense of stewardship for our natural resources and our environment. Together, the outdoor suppliers, manufacturers and retailers who make outdoor products and the 50 million current and future voters whose lives are enriched by outdoor recreation represent a shared vision and purpose that can get the American economy back on track.

Each year, Americans spend hundreds of billions of dollars exploring the outdoors in myriad ways – hiking, camping, climbing, hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, running, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, scuba diving and surfing, to name a few. Americans’ passion for outdoor recreation supports the outdoor recreation economy, which accounts for $887 billion in annual consumer spending, contributes 7.6 million jobs to the U.S. economy and generates $125 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue each year. For context, that’s more than Americans spend on pharmaceuticals and fuel, combined.[1] And more than twice as many Americans are directly employed by hunting- and fishing-related businesses (483,000) than oil and gas extraction (180,000).[2] In rural communities in states across America, outdoor recreation is powering economic growth and social stability through the thousands of small businesses that benefit from their proximity to forests, trails and recreational activities. Prior to COVID-19, the outdoor sector made up 2.2 percent of the U.S. GDP and was growing faster than the U.S. economy.

Like most sectors, the outdoor industry has been deeply impacted by COVID-19 and is uniquely threatened by climate change and international trade wars. But we believe that it is well positioned to help drive economic recovery and sustained, long-term growth.

We urge the next administration and Congress to take bold, robust and ongoing action on climate, public lands and waters and trade at the federal level in order to ensure thriving communities, thriving outdoor businesses and a thriving planet.

A. Climate Change

Climate change is already causing disruption and financial harm to outdoor businesses – and to the local, state and national economies that rely on our industry’s job creation and tax revenue. Therefore, we urge Congress and the next administration to do the following:

  • Incentivize businesses to take bold action to reverse the climate crisis
  • Preserve our nation’s lands and waters as natural climate solutions
  • Invest in parks and paths to help build low-carbon, climate-resilient communities
  • Accelerate our nation’s transition to renewable energy

B. Public Lands and Waters

The outdoor recreation economy depends on abundant, safe and welcoming public lands and waters. The health of individuals, communities and our economy is tied to opportunities for everyone to experience the benefits of parks, trails and open spaces. We urge Congress and the next administration to do the following:

  • Make public lands and waters a cornerstone of economic recovery:
    • By making public lands an essential part of individual and community health
    • By making new investments in recreation and green infrastructure, including Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and close-to-home recreation
  • Conserve public lands and waters
  • Make the outdoors accessible, equitable, welcoming and safe for everyone, regardless of geography, income or prior experience
  • Protect core conservation laws and reverse regulatory rollbacks

C. Balanced Trade

A stable and predictable federal trade policy is critical to helping outdoor companies lower costs, create U.S. jobs and fuel innovation. Consistent with a balanced trade policy that supports global value chains and domestic manufacturers, we urge Congress and the next administration to do the following:

  • Conclude an agreement with China that protects U.S. IP and lifts all punitive tariffs
  • Rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and pursue new bilateral and multilateral trade deals
  • Renew and expand the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) process
  • Prioritize sustainable trade initiatives
  • Develop a North American supply chain for PPE

OIA and its members, along with millions of outdoor enthusiasts, are ready to do our part to support meaningful action to enact this agenda and confront the climate crisis, preserve our public lands and waters, expand access for all Americans and lower costs to help outdoor companies do what they do best: create new, innovative gear to enhance the outdoor experience. Now is the time to get to work and grow the outdoor recreation economy.

II. CLIMATE POLICY

The $887 billion outdoor recreation economy depends on strong and swift federal action to combat the climate crisis and to preserve the American outdoor experience for all.

A. Introduction

The outdoor industry is a vital and sustainable contributor to the American economy. But uncertainty and instability for outdoor businesses loom. Climate change disruption is already causing financial harm to outdoor businesses and to the local, state and national economies that rely on our industry’s job creation and tax revenue. Soaring temperatures, extreme weather events, reduced winter snowpack, smoke-filled skies from wildfires, degraded rivers and lakes and diminished wildlife populations reduce access to outdoor recreation opportunities and in turn reduce demand for goods and services – from bikes, tents and snowboards to hiking boots, jackets and backpacks – that connect Americans to the restorative benefits of the outdoors. Adverse impacts are projected to be even more dire in the coming decades:

  • Higher temperatures and droughts threaten recreational waters throughout the country – from dangerous algal blooms in Lake Erie and Puget Sound to abbreviated whitewater rafting seasons on the Madison River in Montana due to decreased snowpack. These conditions close recreational waters to activities like swimming, boating, rafting and fishing, which are some of the largest sectors of the outdoor recreation economy.
  • Decreased snowfall and increased temperatures are melting glaciers, like those in Glacier National Park, a popular destination that generates $484 million in economic benefits and more than 5,200 jobs. Those glaciers – and therefore the revenue and jobs they create – may be gone by the end of the century.[3]
  • Warmer winters and changing precipitation patterns are fundamentally altering winter sports and activities. A 2017 study projects that “virtually all locations” in the United States will see winter recreation seasons cut in half by 2050. That means the average ski season in many places could be reduced to just a few weeks, and the quality of those remaining days will be far worse.[4] According to a 2018 report by Protect Our Winters, low-snow years see $1 billion less value for snow industries and lead to 17,400 fewer jobs compared to an average season.[5] Ski areas and events in states across the nation are already economically impacted: In 2017, the American Berkebeiner (the “Birkie”), the iconic cross-country race which attracts $25 million in economic activity to Wisconsin, was cancelled due to unseasonably warm weather.
  • The Florida economy is based largely on real estate, tourism and water-based recreation. Tourism to Everglades National Park alone generates $58.7 million in visitor spending and supports more than 800 jobs.[6] Climate change puts all of that at risk. According to experts, improving the flow of freshwater through the Everglades through restoration projects presents the best chance of staving off dramatic effects from climate change and preserving associated jobs and revenue. Such efforts pay big dividends, as a conservative economic analysis showed: For every $1 invested in restoration, Florida’s economy will see a $4 return.[7]

Climate change also disrupts the global supply chains that outdoor companies depend on. Extreme heat in many regions where apparel, footwear and outdoor gear are produced is leading to unsafe working conditions and reduced working days. Drought impacts the supply and price of raw materials like cotton. Hurricanes, extreme precipitation and flooding cause factory shutdowns and block distribution channels. These impacts lead to delays, lost sales and revenue, increased costs to outdoor companies and, potentially, higher costs for the American consumer.

Such uncertainty and instability of both supply and demand is bad for business.

B. The Outdoor Industry Is Taking Bold Action

That’s why more than 80 leading outdoor companies are collaborating to measure their greenhouse gas emissions, set targets and drive greenhouse reductions in emissions across their own business operations and supply chains – taking voluntary responsibility for our industry’s contribution to climate change.[8]

We agree with scientists and public health experts that the United States – and the world – must cut greenhouse gas emissions roughly in half by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Our industry’s ambition is to be “climate positive” by 2050 or sooner – that is, to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than we emit. As businesses that make and sell gear to be enjoyed in America’s great outdoors, it is part of our heritage to be stewards of the planet and to enable a healthy outdoor lifestyle. But tackling climate change is not just a scientific and moral imperative – it is a business imperative.

Increasingly, American consumers – particularly young people – expect companies not only to take a stand on climate change but to act accordingly. Recent research shows 94 percent of Gen Z-ers (who have access to an estimated $44 billion in buying power) believe that companies should address urgent social and environmental issues.[9] Today’s nearly 150 million outdoor participants are also voters, future voters and potential advocates, and climate change matters to them. A 2019 study by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found young Americans may make climate change a voting issue in the 2020 election,[10] and a June 2020 poll shows that 72 percent of Americans think it is important for the U.S. Congress to address climate change.[11]

Now we need federal policy that helps American outdoor businesses take bold steps to reverse the climate crisis. We are doing our part, but we need Congress and federal agencies to act.

C. Industry and Business Can’t Do It Alone. We Need Government Action.

We urge our elected officials and agency leaders to champion policies that enable outdoor companies to reduce the emissions associated with our operations, products and supply chains by accelerating access to affordable renewable energy and incentivizing low-carbon business practices. We also recognize that a comprehensive approach to reversing the climate crisis must also adopt policies that remove carbon in addition to reducing it and that natural climate solutions offer the greatest potential to sequester atmospheric carbon in our lands and waters – including our forests, waterways, farmlands and other natural systems. And in urban and rural communities alike, we need more parks and paths to enable low- or no-carbon ways for everyone to connect to the great outdoors.

The following steps would simultaneously reverse the climate crisis, preserve the American outdoor experience for all and help the outdoor industry thrive:

We urge our elected officials and agency leaders to champion policies that enable outdoor companies to reduce the emissions associated with our operations, products and supply chains by accelerating access to affordable renewable energy and incentivizing low-carbon business practices. We also recognize that a comprehensive approach to reversing the climate crisis must also adopt policies that remove carbon in addition to reducing it and that natural climate solutions offer the greatest potential to sequester atmospheric carbon in our lands and waters – including our forests, waterways, farmlands and other natural systems. And in urban and rural communities alike, we need more parks and paths to enable low- or no-carbon ways for everyone to connect to the great outdoors.

The following steps would simultaneously reverse the climate crisis, preserve the American outdoor experience for all and help the outdoor industry thrive:

  • Incentivize Businesses Taking Bold Action to Reverse the Climate Crisis

A comprehensive national climate strategy must include greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and must reward companies acting to reduce their carbon footprints. These goals and rewards include tax incentives and/or tariff reductions for business practices, such as sourcing products, materials and/or components made from low-carbon processes, materials (e.g., recycled content) and technologies; use of low-carbon shipping methods (e.g., ocean freight as opposed to air) and zero-emission electric transport for domestic distribution; investments in energy-efficient equipment and technologies; purchasing credible voluntary carbon offsets; and setting voluntary, science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets.

  • Preserve Our Nation’s Lands and Waters As Natural Climate Solutions

Our country’s lands and waters provide the most immediately attainable and cost-effective means of addressing our climate crisis. Our nation’s forests, farms, wetlands and grasslands have the potential to absorb more than 20 percent of greenhouse gas pollution in the United States – equivalent to the emissions from all U.S. vehicles.[12]

The outdoor industry supports swift scale-up of natural climate solutions as a strategy for both climate mitigation and climate resilience across a variety of lands, waters and habitat types – including the forests, rivers, lakes, streams, oceans and coastal areas where Americans love to recreate. Our businesses depend on the health of these ecosystems. We support federal policy to protect and conserve 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030. We also support defining protection and conservation in a manner that is inclusive and innovative to maximize the diversity of geographies and communities that can contribute to this ambitious goal. In addition, with the right science-based policy programs in place to properly manage forestland and prevent conversion, our nation’s forests have enormous potential to store and sequester more carbon. So-called “blue carbon” ecosystems in our nation’s oceans and coastal areas – also important hubs for outdoor recreation and tourism – sequester even more carbon per unit area than forests.

The outdoor industry relies on America’s agricultural lands to supply much of the cotton, wool, leather and other natural fibers used to make many outdoor products. Agriculture accounts for 10.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and some agricultural practices can lead to negative impacts on outdoor recreation (e.g., fertilizer inputs lead to nitrogen runoff that impacts rivers, streams and lakes, leading to algal blooms and aquatic dead zones that impact fishing and other outdoor activities). At the same time, policy that supports and incentivizes regenerative and other climate-smart agricultural practices can turn America’s farms and ranches into climate solutions.

  • Invest in Parks and Paths to Help Build Low-Carbon, Climate-Resilient Communities

Urban parks and greenways have the ability to sequester carbon, create shade in heat-stressed urban areas and reduce climate risks to communities by helping to minimize the impacts of climate-related weather events such as intense storms and flooding. Yet more than 100 million Americans do not live within walking or biking distance of a park.[13] Federal investment should incentivize park expansions and municipal tree ordinances to mitigate the climate and human health impacts of urban heat islands.

Increased and improved infrastructure that supports “active” transportation, such as walkways and bike paths, could reduce emissions from transport in cities by 40 percent, connect more Americans to opportunities to get outside and improve public health.[14] Yet most communities in America lack active transportation networks, in low-income communities and communities of color in particular. We envision a future where cities are not racially segregated by highways but instead where federal policy and federal dollars are used to help connect communities via pedestrian walkways, bike paths and zero-emission public transportation to parks and urban greenways that enable more families to experience the outdoors close to home.

  • Accelerate Our Nation’s Transition to Renewable Energy to Help People, the Planet and the Outdoor Economy Thrive

It makes sense: An outdoor industry that relies on healthy natural playgrounds and healthy people getting outside should be powered by energy sources that enable that experience – not harm it. In particular, communities of color, low-income families and indigenous communities have long suffered disproportionate and cumulative harm from air pollution and toxic sites associated with producing energy derived from fossil fuels. Yet renewable energy solutions exist today in the form of wind, solar and geothermal, and the costs of those technologies continue to fall. We have the technological means to deploy them to produce 90 percent of our nation’s energy demand with little or no cost to energy buyers by 2035.[15]

Many outdoor brands, retailers and manufacturers agree that renewable energy is one of the leading ways to achieve a zero-carbon economy, and they have committed to ambitious renewable energy procurement goals to run their U.S. stores, distribution centers, headquarters, manufacturing facilities and other operations. As more outdoor companies strive to source 100 percent renewable energy, we need federal policy that accelerates our nation’s transition to renewable energy sources, enabling renewable energy to reach all communities at competitive prices. This includes tax incentives for solar, wind and geothermal power generation and a modernized electrical grid and transmission infrastructure. Policy actions should take into account small and midsized companies that may lack influence to change local utility policy or negotiate deals as large energy buyers can. Our nation’s public lands can also accelerate the transition and serve as sites for renewable energy development, so long as – as with any energy development project – the impact on environment, recreation assets, wildlife and local communities is properly taken into account and minimized to the fullest extent possible. We support an equitable transition to renewable energy in the U.S., including goals to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from public lands and support for communities and workers impacted as local economies transition.

Americans travel near and far by car every year to visit the parks, campgrounds, climbing meccas, fishing holes and trails they love – as well as trips to stores where gear is sold. Transportation is one of the largest sources of both climate emissions and air pollution, negatively impacting our urban and rural communities. Federal investment should incentivize the electrification of personal, commercial and public transportation, supporting both electric vehicle adoption and the deployment of charging infrastructure. Electric vehicles offer significant cost savings – for households, commuters, businesses and public transit operators. Beyond the financial opportunity, electrifying transportation will clean up the air we breathe, further improving the public health benefits of both active transportation and outdoor recreation.

III. CONSERVATION AND RECREATION POLICY

The $887 billion outdoor recreation economy depends on abundant, safe and welcoming public lands and waters – from neighborhood parks to national parks. The health of individuals, communities and our economy is tied to opportunities for everyone to experience the benefits of parks, trails and open spaces – now more than ever.

A. Introduction

Our members produce and sell the outdoor products that enrich people’s lives by supporting healthy and active lifestyles, foster a sense of stewardship for our natural resources and raise consciousness of our impact on a changing climate, all while providing billions of dollars in tax revenue and accounting for 7.6 million American jobs.[16]

Spending more time outside brings many benefits to individuals, communities, companies and society. Scientific research shows[17] that time in nature provides benefits of improved mental health, reduced depression, reduced anxiety and stress, improved social connection and improved physical health.

Outdoor Foundation data indicate that the majority (63 percent) of people that get outside to recreate do so within 10 miles of their homes,[18] and early data from surveys during COVID-19 indicate that this is even more pronounced. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated stay-at-home orders underscored for millions of Americans the crucial importance of opportunities to get outside close to home, as well as the inadequate existing recreation infrastructure, like trails and access points.

While there is increased demand for outdoor recreation, not enough Americans have equal access to quality, local outdoor recreation and the associated health benefits.[19] Communities of color are three times more likely than white communities to live in nature-deprived places.[20] Recent studies from The Trust for Public land show that 100 million Americans,[21] including 28 million children, do not have access to a park or green space within a 10-minute walk of their home.

Now more than ever, we need to protect our existing public lands and waters and provide new places close to home for more Americans so that everyone benefits. Access to the outdoors should be a right, not a privilege.

B. Make Public Lands and Waters a Cornerstone of Economic Recovery

Prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.2 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product and was growing at a faster pace than the U.S. economy overall.[22] Consumer spending related to outdoor recreation contributed $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue and generated $59.2 billion in taxes to state and local governments.[23] The outdoor recreation industry was hit hard by the pandemic but has the potential for a quick rebound[24] to put Americans to work and aid in our economic recovery.

Investments in creating new places for people to access the benefits of the outdoors, as well as in green infrastructure and ecosystem health, will put people to work building resources that will provide quality of life and economic benefit for distressed communities. Over the next four years, the president must do the following:

  • Support significant new investment in recreation and green infrastructure by funding land, water and recreation management agencies, providing increased resources to states and expanding coordinated capacity through federal agencies, states, NGOs, conservation corps and businesses
  • Recognize that outdoor recreation and its attendant economic benefits have an important role to play in helping communities adapt to a changing economy
  • Recognize public lands as an essential part of individual and community health, with a strong potential to increase health and wellness outcomes and reduce healthcare costs

C. Conserve Public Lands and Waters, and Provide Recreation Opportunities For All Americans

Public lands and waters — whether they are part of neighborhood parks or national parks — are worth protecting for their intrinsic, ecological and social value. Over the next four years, any administration must build on our country’s longstanding bipartisan tradition of protecting our public lands. With many state and local budgets declining due to revenue loss associated with COVID-19, there is a need for the federal government to explore innovative ways it can help fund not just federal lands but also fund more local public lands that serve the needs of people every day. Therefore president must do the following:

  • Protect public lands and waters through conservation and recreation-focused designations
  • Ensure that everyone, regardless of geography, background or identity, has access to a high-quality park, trail or open space
  • Ensure that all Americans, regardless of geography, background or identity, see themselves in the stories told by our country’s protected landscapes and have meaningful opportunities to connect with them

D. Protect core conservation laws and reverse regulatory rollbacks

In recent years, lawmakers and agencies have considered or implemented policies that threaten public lands and waters. Therefore, the president must do the following:

  • Keep public lands public
  • Protect the Antiquities Act and make whole the national monuments currently subject to unlawful rollbacks
  • Reverse regulatory rollbacks that imperil public lands and waters, including decisions to undercut the USDA Forest Service Roadless Rule, and drastically scale back the efficacy of the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act
  • Encourage federal land management agencies to ease the permitting burden for guides and outfitters that operate on federally managed lands and develop a service-for-fee model to ease the financial burden on operators and the maintenance burden on agency staff

IV. BALANCED TRADE POLICY

OIA’s trade program represents the diversity of our membership, including outdoor companies whose products are conceived, designed and produced in America and those companies that utilize global value chains to bring their products to retail markets. From some of the largest companies in the world to small, family-owned businesses, we work to ensure that U.S. federal trade policy fosters and promotes a stable, predictable and cost-saving environment for all.

A. Introduction

Outdoor companies produce some of the most high-tech, innovative products in the world, designed to enhance the outdoor experience. These are unique products, distinct from ready-made, mass-market goods that often fall under the same categories in the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule. While the average import tariff is less than 2 percent, outdoor products face an average import tariff of about 14 percent. In fact, tariffs run as high as 17.6 percent for a backpack, 20 percent for a sports bag, 32 percent for a polar fleece jacket and 37.5 percent for pair of hiking boots with a waterproof, breathable liner.

As such, OIA pursues a balanced trade policy:

  • For our members who utilize global value chains, we support the elimination of import tariffs on outdoor products where there is no viable domestic production.
  • For our members who manufacture in the U.S., we support policies to help them compete in the global economy.

Consistent with this balanced trade policy, we urge the administration and Congress to support the following initiatives that will help outdoor companies do what they do best: develop new apparel, footwear and equipment to enhance the outdoor experience and enable more Americans to enjoy our parks, public lands and waters.

B. Lower Costs for Outdoor Companies and Consumers: Eliminate the Section 301 China Tariffs

We agree that China must do more to address long-standing concerns about its harmful industrial policies and to protect U.S. intellectual property (IP). Applying unilateral punitive tariffs on certain products sourced from China, however, has had a devastating economic impact on outdoor companies and their consumers and has failed to result in a comprehensive agreement.

Section 301 tariffs of 7.5 percent (List 4a) and 25 percent (List 1-3) were applied to both imported outdoor gear as well as inputs for products made in the United States. Their implementation has significantly increased costs for outdoor companies, stifled innovation and U.S. job growth and put many products out of reach for consumers looking to get outdoors. Perversely, they have also created an incentive for our U.S. manufacturers to shift production overseas in order to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

Section 301 tariffs of 7.5 percent (List 4a) and 25 percent (List 1-3) were applied to both imported outdoor gear as well as inputs for products made in the United States. Their implementation has significantly increased costs for outdoor companies, stifled innovation and U.S. job growth and put many products out of reach for consumers looking to get outdoors. Perversely, they have also created an incentive for our U.S. manufacturers to shift production overseas in order to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

While outdoor companies are actively looking to diversify their sourcing options away from China, in several cases, China continues to dominate the market, as it is the only country with existing infrastructure, raw materials, tooling and skilled workforce required for manufacturing outdoor products. Alternative countries that appear to be viable sourcing options are already maxed out in their production capacity and therefore unable to accommodate a massive, immediate migration of manufacturing from China.

Additional time, significant investment and training are needed to shift supply chains to other countries. Outdoor industry companies are prepared to do just that, but the significant economic harm caused by these punitive tariffs has impacted their ability to remain competitive and make the necessary investments.

We therefore urge the next administration to immediately negotiate a comprehensive agreement with China that will not only protect U.S. IP but also lift all punitive tariffs. Should the unilateral Section 301 duties remain in place, we request that the administration and Congress do the following:

  • Initiate a new process to allow companies to apply for new product exclusions
  • Keep all existing and future exclusions in place for a minimum of three years

C. Rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Pursue New Trade Deals

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was the most comprehensive free trade agreement ever negotiated and signed in U.S. history, covering 40 percent of global GDP and more than 800 million consumers. OIA supported the TPP because it was consistent with our balanced trade policy, reflected our industry’s values of social and environmental responsibility and provided significant and meaningful commercial benefits to outdoor companies. By lowering costs on outdoor apparel, footwear and equipment, the TPP would have promoted innovation, created more American jobs and made outdoor products more affordable for more people, while raising standards on labor rights and protection of the environment. 

In addition to lowering costs, TPP would have provided reciprocal market access for U.S.-made outdoor products, breaking down trade barriers and opening new export markets in the Asia-

We strongly urge the administration to do the following:

  • Rejoin TPP, now renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) by its participating members, and push for prompt congressional ratification (but if joining TPP is not possible in the short term, we urge the negotiation of a bilateral free trade agreement with Vietnam)
  • Negotiate new reciprocal free trade agreements with strategically important countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and India

D. Renew and Expand the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)

GSP is the main U.S. trade preference program for developing countries, providing duty-free market access on eligible products if they are sourced from a beneficiary country, such as Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia or the Philippines. OIA helped lead the effort to add backpacks, sports bags and other travel goods to the GSP program in 2017. Since then, outdoor companies have saved $139 million annually on those products, duty savings that have lowered costs for outdoor companies and consumers. OIA is also working on an initiative to make certain footwear products, such as hiking boots, hiking shoes and trail running shoes, eligible for the GSP program for the first time. The GSP program is set to expire at the end of 2020 and must be renewed by Congress.

We urge the administration to support renewal of GSP, including a provision to make certain footwear products eligible for duty-free status for the first time.

E. Reform and Renew the Miscellaneous Tariff Bills (MTBs) Process

MTBs reduce or suspend import tariffs for three years on products, regardless of country of origin, where there is no domestic production and where duties lost to the U.S. Treasury are less than $500,000. Past MTBs have saved outdoor companies $40 million, and last year, OIA submitted 16 new MTBs for duty-relief consideration of certain footwear products, eight of which made it into the final package. OIA members also separately submitted MTB petitions for a diverse range of outdoor products. Congress is expected to consider a package of MTBs this fall that has been vetted and cleared by the International Trade Commission, as existing MTBs are set to expire at the end of 2020.

The law providing for the MTB process set forth only two iterations, 2016 and 2019, of duty-relief consideration and will need to be reauthorized for any future rounds, which we will urge Congress to do. We will also urge Congress to include preserving the eligibility of finished products and suggest a few modifications to the multi-agency vetting process:

  • Assessment standards used by the ITC and the Department of Commerce of what constitutes “identical, like or directly like” production should be clarified, universally applied and transparent.
  • Objections from domestic producers should not be confidential.
  • Petitioners should be given the opportunity for direct dialogue with Customs and Border Protection on their input on classification and administrability issues.

We urge the administration and Congress to support the implementation of future MTB rounds that utilize a modified vetting process and preserve the eligibility of finished products.

F. Prioritize Sustainable Trade Initiatives

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) lacks a mechanism to distinguish products made of sustainable raw materials, despite existence of a legal and policy precedent for such delineation. Outdoor companies are at the forefront of innovating and producing goods from sustainable (organic or bio-based) and recycled inputs. We believe these products should be differentiated not only in the consumer marketplace but also through trade import data. We also believe preferential market access should be provided for these goods not only to incentivize production with our trading partners but also to encourage more sustainable goods production.

We urge the next administration to support recognition of sustainable goods in the HTS and support incentives for greater production of those products.

G. Develop a North American Supply Chain for PPEs

OIA supports a regional approach to PPE sourcing that reduces our dependence on China for critical medical equipment. Rather than a U.S.-only approach, OIA also supports the use of existing supply chains that use U.S. cotton and other textiles with final production in Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean. This would allow an immediate shift in production from China that maximizes existing relationships from the apparel sector. 

We urge the administration to support a regional approach to PPE sourcing to maximize our ability to shift out of China.

* * *

Based in Boulder, Colorado, with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry and the title sponsor of Outdoor Retailer. OIA unites and serves 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org.

Every state and every district in America has an outdoor recreation economy. Those jobs, tax revenues, state and local economies and livelihoods and the quintessential American outdoor experience are at risk if both business and government do not take meaningful and immediate climate action.


[1] Outdoor Industry Association, The Outdoor Recreation Economy (2017) and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

[2] Outdoor Industry Association, The Outdoor Recreation Economy (2017) and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

[3] National Park Service, Tourism to Glacier National Park Adds $484 Million in Local Economic Benefits (June 4, 2019),

[4] Cameron Wobus et al., Projected Climate Change Impacts on Skiing and Snowmobiling: A Case Study of the United States, 45 Global Envtl. Change (2017); see also Fourth National Climate Assessment, supra note 1, at 52 (“In the Northeast, activities that rely on natural snow and ice cover may not be economically viable by the end of the century without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions.”).

[5]Protect Our Winters (2018).

[6] National Park Service, National Park Tourism in South Florida Creates $225 Million in Economic Benefit (May 24, 2019).

[7] Mather Economics, for The Everglades Foundation, Measuring the Economic Benefits of America’s Everglades Restoration (2017)

[8] Outdoor Industry Association, Climate Action Corps.

[9] Cone Communications, 2017 Cone Gen Z CSR Study: How to Speak Z.

[10]Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. In 2020, for the first time, the youngest generations (both Millennial and iGen – born in or after 1997) are projected to make up the largest proportion of registered voters.

[11] Climate Nexus Polling, Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, A survey of 9,087 registered U.S. voters on support for stimulus funding and legislative climate action, National Poll Toplines, June, 2020,

[12] The Nature Conservancy, New Study Reveals Natural Solutions Can Reduce Global Warming (November 14, 2018).

[13]Trust For Public Land.

[14] Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, A Global High Shift Cycling Scenario (November 12, 2015).

[15] Center for Environmental Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley 2035 Report: Plummeting Solar, Wind, and Battery Costs Can Accelerate Our Clean Energy Future

[16] Outdoor Industry Association, The Outdoor Recreation Economy (2017) and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data

[17] REI, The Path Ahead (2017)

[18] REI, The Path Ahead (2017)

[19] State of California Resources Agency, The Health and Social Benefits of Recreation (2005)

[20] The Center for American Progress, The Nature Gap (2020)

[21]Trust For Public Land

[22] The Bureau of Economic Analysis, Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, U.S. and Prototype for States 2017

[23] Outdoor Industry Association, The Outdoor Recreation Economy (2017)

[24] Outdoor Industry Association, The Outdoor Recreation Economy (2012)

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