Trade Policy: Why You Need to Know the RAMPARTS Bill
One of the Made in America trade bills that OIA has been working on is expected to go to committee for markup in the next few weeks. What the heck is it, why should you care and what does markup mean? Our team breaks it down.
Setup: “Made in the U.S.A.” is more than a label; it represents a philosophy and a commitment to creating products domestically that meet consumers’ high quality standards. The outdoor industry has been a leader in domestic manufacturing, producing innovative, high-tech apparel, footwear and bags across the United States.
Manufacturing in the United States is not always easy or price-competitive; high-performance materials and the skilled labor necessary to cut, sew or assemble the products are often unavailable domestically. Despite those challenges, many companies remain committed to domestic production, only to face hurdles when registering, classifying or marketing a product as “Made in the U.S.A.”
Background: The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) standard for “Made in the U.S.A.”—one of the most stringent in the world—stipulates that “all or virtually all” of a product must be made in the United States to qualify for the label. “Virtually all” in this case refers to a percentage of the product’s components. OIA supports a strong national standard that reinforces the integrity of the “Made in the U.S.A.” label.
The Rub: California—the 11th largest market in the world—has issued a different standard, which it requires products to meet in order to carry the “Made in the U.S.A.” In California, “virtually all” refers not to a percentage of the components in the product but rather a percentage of the total cost of the product. Therefore, products that qualify for the label in the other 49 states via the FTC standard might not qualify to carry the “Made in the U.S.A.” label in California. A company could face legal action in California if its products carry the “Made in America” label but don’t meet the state’s standard. Meeting two separate standards can be unduly costly for domestic manufacturers that already face high costs. In addition, the standard could discourage companies looking to bring production back to the United States from overseas.
And So: Outdoor Industry Association supports the Reinforcing American-Made Products Act of 2017 (S.118), also known as RAMPARTS. This legislation—supported by many outdoor industry companies that manufacture domestically—does not aim to weaken the existing federal standard. Instead, it would establish the FTC as the sole authority to define and enforce the “Made in the U.S.A.” standard so that a product can carry the label in all 50 states and around the world.
What Now: Now that S.118 has been introduced in the Senate, it will go to markup in the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. In a markup, senators will debate and potentially amend the bill to work through some of the differences they may have. This is an important step in moving the legislation forward. When finished with the markup, the committee will vote on the bill, and if the bill is reported out of committee, it will go to the Senate floor for a possible debate and vote. If the bill passes the Senate, it will go to the House where it will undergo a similar process.
Wrap It Up: The new Trump administration has committed to and is putting big emphasis on growing domestic manufacturing through its “America First” policy. RAMPARTS aims to clearly define what “American made” means. This is the time for the outdoor industry to unite in support of companies that are investing in U.S. manufacturing.