FDRA Hails Wave of Three Congressional Letters Supporting The Elimination of Footwear Duties Through TPP

FDRA Hails Wave of Three Congressional Letters Supporting The Elimination of Footwear Duties Through TPP

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) hailed the largest support the footwear industry has received to date from Congress on its position regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  In the past week, three strong and clear letters were sent from groups of U.S. Senators and Members of Congress to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman.

The letters were pushing, as one letter stated, “immediate, meaningful duty elimination and establishing straight-forward and uncomplicated rules of origin for footwear…” in the current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

“The media keeps writing stories about divisions in the footwear industry on TPP.  It may sell papers, but it is not accurate,” said FDRA President Matt Priest.  “Almost 100% of the entire U.S. footwear industry supports a TPP agreement that eliminates duties from the Pacific Rim countries on day one.  That includes a majority of the largest domestic footwear manufacturers like Wolverine Worldwide, H.H. Brown Shoe Company and LaCrosse Footwear who import most of the shoes they sell and could use savings from TPP duty eliminations to strengthen their domestic manufacturing jobs.”

Ambassador Froman received three distinct letters in support of a robust, 21st Century Trade Agreement. They included a letter from 14 U.S. Senators on November 18th; a letter from eight leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on November 13th; and another letter from 24 House members sent yesterday.  Although from a diverse and bipartisan group of legislators, all letters spoke about the outdated tariff code from the 1930s.  They did so because these tariffs slap 99% of all footwear with duties averaging 10% and upwards of 67.5%, which hits hard working American families with a hidden footwear tax at a time they can ill afford it.

“The industry would like to thank each of these leaders for their support for footwear employees and consumers across America.  This agreement is especially vital for American consumers, considering Vietnam is a party to TPP negotiations and is the 2nd largest provider of footwear to the U.S. market.  In 2012, duties out of Vietnam reached almost $300 million, a heavy burden for the industry and consumers,” said FDRA President Matt Priest.  “As the industry’s representative in Washington, we are very encouraged by the growing support for our position to end footwear duties through TPP.  To the 300,000 Americans who work in the footwear industry, and the 317 million Americans getting hurt by unnecessary hidden taxes, this really is common sense.”

Senate Letter can be seen here.

The CBC letter can be seen here.

The Bipartisan House letter can be seen here.

Highlights from the Senate letter include:

“The immediate elimination of footwear tariffs in TPP, therefore, provides and opportunity to bargain for commitments that will benefit U.S. exporters and save money for U.S. companies and consumers, without negatively affecting U.S. manufacturing.  The eliminations of footwear tariffs in the context of an ambitious TPP agreement will directly benefit the U.S. footwear industry, which invests billions of dollars and employees hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, both through duty savings as well as new market access in TPP countries.”

Highlights from the CBC letter include:

“Even though less than 1 percent of the footwear sold in the U.S. is produced domestically, the vast majority of the value of imported footwear actually originates here.  The innovation, design, marketing and sale of that footwear – are all completed in the U.S., providing thousands of good-paying American jobs in every state.”

“…we highly recommend completely eliminating high duties on imported U.S footwear in the TPP so American companies can maintain its global competitiveness and U.S. consumers can benefit with new increased purchasing power.”

Highlights from the Bipartisan House letter include:

“The elimination of the U.S. footwear tariff in TPP, therefore, would produce gains for U.S. exporters and the U.S. economy as a whole, without significantly affecting U.S. footwear production.”