Outdoor Industry Scores Major Trade Victory
The Obama administration, in response to a swift and vocal campaign by the outdoor industry, announced on Monday that it has lifted its opposition to eight miscellaneous tariff bills (MTBs) that reduce import duties on certain specialty outdoor footwear products that have no viable manufacturing options in the United States.
When the Obama administration suddenly and unexpectedly announced its opposition to the bills on Nov. 16 — a move that threatened to increase prices on hiking, hunting, fishing and trail running footwear by as much as 38 percent — Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) issued an action alert, urging the outdoor industry to speak out in favor of the bills. Outdoor industry companies responded in force, sending nearly 200 emails to Congress and the administration in less than one week — prompting the administration to reverse course on eight of 18 tariff bills the outdoor industry had submitted.
One of the most critical and successful trade tools supporting the outdoor industry, miscellaneous tariff bills (MTBs) have allowed the outdoor industry to redirect more than $30 million in cost savings towards new American jobs, investments in innovation and lower prices for American families.
“This is a major victory for the outdoor industry and also for our consumers,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of OIA. “The administration’s new position will help ensure stable retail prices on these leading outdoor products and keep them more affordable for American families.”
The eight bills are continuations of existing bills, meaning that the administration’s opposition would have resulted in sudden increased tariffs on specialty footwear products that represent 30 percent of all outdoor specialty sales.
“We set our pricing on a six-month basis, so we would have had to absorb the increased costs,” said Jonathan Lantz, president of La Sportiva North America. “We would have taken a big hit, which would have limited our plans for hiring, marketing and employee appreciation programs in 2013.”
“These bills will continue to be highly beneficial for footwear companies across the outdoor industry,” said Jim Zwiers, president of the Outdoor Group at Wolverine Worldwide. “We’re proud to be a part of an industry that quickly mobilized to protect jobs in the outdoor industry and promote investment in footwear innovation.”
“We appreciate that the administration heard our case,” said Mike Ratchford director of government affairs for W.L. Gore and Associates. “This decision helps ensure that the outdoor industry will continue to provide innovative products for outdoor enthusiasts.”
“These tariffs could have had an unexpected and devastating economic impact on our industry. We are grateful that the Obama administration listened to our concerns, and for all of the congressional leaders who supported us,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of OIA.
OIA will continue to press the administration and congressional leaders for support of the 10 new tariff bills.
Learn more about OIA’s balanced trade agenda, which aims to reduce import duties on products with no commercially viable U.S. manufacturing, while providing support and guidance for companies making products in America or looking for opportunities to bring their production back home.