Key Trade Bills Move Forward in US Senate

Key Trade Bills Move Forward in US Senate

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee passed legislation Wednesday evening that will give President Obama trade promotion authority, or TPA, a necessary step for his administration to conclude negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The committee also passed an amendment from Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to create new classifications in the harmonized tariff schedule for certain “recreational performance outerwear” and another Cantwell amendment to classify certain water resistant performance footwear that face import taxes as high as 37.5 percent, more accurately as athletic footwear which is taxed at 20 percent.

The Finance Committee also passed an amendment that would make textile and leather travel goods and packs eligible for consideration to be added to the  Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.

All four provisions passed this evening – TPA, recreational performance outerwear and performance footwear classifications and the update to the GSP program – have all been priority issues for OIA’s government affairs team with TPA and the outerwear classifications included in last week’s successful OIA Capitol Summit in Washington, D.C.

The Cantwell/Portman amendment that creates new classifications for qualifying, woven performance outerwear is one part of the U.S. OUTDOOR Act, OIA’s signature trade legislation. The amendment did not include tariff elimination  on those classifications or the Sustainable Textile and Apparel Research (STAR) Fund. OIA is working hard to have those aspects of the legislation added in as the legislative package moves to the Senate floor for a vote.

OIA staff and Capitol Summit attendees also pressed Congress and the administration to negotiate a TPP deal that reflects the industry values of social and environmental responsibility.

During his speech to the outdoor industry last week, Ambassador Froman said the TPP would have the strongest labor and environmental standards of any trade agreement in U.S. history.

In addition, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) offered an amendment that would add significant penalties, including retaliation or complete removal from a trade agreement with the United States, for any country whose policies negatively impact the environment. That amendment also passed the committee.

The TPA bill and other trade related legislation is expected to be voted on by the full Senate in the coming days.

The Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives will consider the TPA bill tomorrow.