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US Bill to Eliminate Outdoor Apparel Tariffs Progresses

As Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) talks gained traction earlier this month, so did a long-underway bill that would reduce tariffs on outdoor apparel.

U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) recently reintroduced bipartisan legislation that would lower or eliminate outdated tariffs on recreational outerwear and support the country’s $646 billion outdoor industry.

The proposed United States Optimal Use of Trade to Develop Outerwear and Outdoor Recreation Act (U.S. Outdoor Act for short) would update outdated tariffs originally established to protect domestic outdoor performance apparel manufacturing.

According to Senator Ayotte’s official website, the legislation would:

  • Create a unique classification specific to recreation performance outerwear in the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule.
  • Eliminate or reduce the duties on these new classifications.
  • 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 operating programs that align with sustainable business philosophies of U.S. outdoor recreation companies.
  • Support U.S. jobs and technologies focused on research programs and services towards sustainable, eco-friendly supply chains.

“New Hampshire’s economy relies on the outdoor recreation industry, which generates $4.2 billion in consumer spending in our state each year,” said Senator Ayotte, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee. “This legislation would lower costs for outdoor enthusiasts and companies that sell outdoor recreational apparel, ensuring that they can continue to thrive and create jobs.”

The United States International Trade Commission found that in 2007, recreational performance apparel made in the U.S. accounted for less than 1 percent of the total recreational performance market. The newly introduced bill would make outdoor items like water-resistant jackets and pants more affordable for consumers and aid outerwear retailers in creating jobs, importing goods and investing in research and development of innovative performance apparel.

“This legislation will modernize tariffs on outdoor apparel that no longer make sense, and reduce costs for an outdoor recreation industry that supports 226,000 jobs in Washington state,” said Senator Cantwell, a finance committee member. “The bill will make long-overdue adjustments to these outdated tariffs that will lead to lower costs for consumers and businesses, and encourage growth in our state’s $22 billion outdoor economy.”

The American Apparel and Footwear Association, the Outdoor Industry Association, Eastern Mountain Sports, Kamik Boots, NEMO Equipment and New Balance all support the bill co-sponsored by senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

Stewart Whitney, brand president of Timberland, which is based in Stratham, New Hampshire, said, “We appreciate Senator Ayotte’s continued support for outdoor recreation, and we applaud her efforts to keep tariffs on outdoor gear low, and thereby support Timberland’s place in the outdoor economy.”

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