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Children’s Footwear Duties Increase Dramatically

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Duties on children’s shoes are rising drastically. A total of 99.9% of children’s shoes sold in the U.S. are imported and are being hit with tariff rates upwards of 37.5%, 48% and 67.5%. For purposes of comparison, some other consumer goods are charged an average import duty of 1.3 percent.

According to a report recently released by the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), an estimated 547 million children’s shoes were imported into the U.S. in 2013, with revenues pegged at $268 million. A total of 2.4 billion shoes in all categories were imported into the U.S. in 2013, with tariffs totaling $2.5 billion.

The average retail price of a pair of children’s shoes was estimated by the FDRA at $24.50 with import taxes accounting for $3 of the cost.

Figuring in tariff costs on footwear, U.S. families were hit with a needless $804 million price tag for children’s shoes in 2013.

Working class families, many employed at minimum wage levels, can ill afford these prices. A National Poverty Center study conducted in 2013 says some 3.55 million U.S. children live in households with less than $2 daily income per person.

Retail prices for children’s footwear have been increasing in recent years due to rising duties which have climbed 52.9% between 2010 and 2013.

Additional costs built into the retail price of children’s shoes reflect rising warehousing, shipping, marketing and labor costs.

Growing pre-teens and adolescents need an average of seven pairs of new shoes annually. The FDRA report calculates, therefore, that U.S. families overpay an average of $21.00 per child annually, due to tariff costs built into retail pricing.

The tariffs, of course, protect the U.S. footwear industry, which has moved almost 100 percent of its manufacturing to foreign sources, and for the past 30 years has not made shoes in America for mass consumption.

With a growing number of U.S. children needing shoes because financially strapped low and middle-income families pay their more pressing bills before buying footwear, industry Good Samaritans and church and civic groups are donating shoes to families in need nationwide.

The U.S. Congress is also helping the footwear crisis with the bipartisan-sponsored Affordable Footwear Act (AFA).

Designed principally to help financially struggling families, the proposed bill would suspend duties on children’s shoes for three years, and also on the highest import duties for other footwear.

Domestic footwear makers, which account for just one percent of the industry, would not be affected by the legislation, which is widely supported by domestic footwear makers.

FDRA represents over 80 percent of the industry and is the largest and most respected footwear trade association in the U.S.

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