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The Outdoor Industry Could Soon be Saving Big on Apparel and Footwear Duties

The U.S. apparel and footwear industry is calling for swift enactment of the Outdoor Act, which would lower or eliminate import duties on outdoor clothing and support research programs for the industry.

In a letter to Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Miss.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) of the Senate Finance Committee, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) said the Outdoor Act will eliminate duties on imports of recreational performance outerwear and establish the Sustainable Textile and Apparel Research Fund. The fund would support U.S. jobs by funding domestic research programs and American technologies for creating sustainable, eco-friendly apparel supply chains. The Act was introduced in August and has been sent to the Finance Committee for consideration.

“The high tariffs that remain (some as high as 30 percent) no longer protect a domestic industry and instead stifle product development and unnecessarily hamper our growth,” Rick Helfenbein, president of the AAFA, wrote in the letter. “In fact, a 2007 study by the International Trade Commission found there is no commercially viable manufacturing of recreational performance outerwear in the U.S. The bill has been thoroughly vetted with the domestic textile and apparel industry to ensure none of the products covered by the bill are made in the U.S.”

The AAFA says it supports of the Act because its calls for the elimination of “unnecessary and excessively high” tariffs on recreational performance apparel “that no longer serve their intended purpose.”

The Act will also help make these products more affordable for companies to produce, encourage more Americans to get outdoors, fuel innovation, and help the U.S. apparel industry and its workers, AAFA said.

“With the likelihood that Congress will consider a trade package this year, we are excited about the possibility of the U.S. Outdoor Act being passed and signed into law,” Helfenbein added. “We greatly appreciate your leadership on this issue and look forward to working with you.”

The bill has bipartisan support and is cosponsored by Cantwell and Blunt, as well as Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Republican Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Steve Daines of Montana.