The Retail Industry Leaders Association urged U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to utilize the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations as a vehicle for reducing footwear tariffs that cost consumers millions of dollars a year in higher prices.
RILA on Tuesday announced its support for a letter signed by 27 members of Congress that urged the trade representative’s office to use the TPP negotiations as a catalyst for modernizing U.S. footwear rules and tariffs.
In their letter, the congressional representatives noted less than 1 percent of the footwear sold in the U.S. is produced here. Yet tariffs charged on footwear imports from TPP member nations amount to almost $250 million a year.
“These tariffs make footwear more expensive for American families, and updating the rules for footwear in the TPP would help to lower costs for a basic necessity,” RILA said in a statement.
The U.S. is participating with other Pacific Rim nations in TPP negotiations designed to streamline trade regulations and boost trade volumes among the member countries.
Vietnam, which accounts for about 8 percent of U.S. footwear imports, is one of the countries with which the U.S. is negotiating the TPP.
Most of the innovation, design and marketing by U.S.-based footwear companies is accomplished in the U.S. and therefore produces “thousands of good-paying American jobs,” the congressional representatives said in their letter.
The congressional representatives urged a quick reduction in duties and regulations on imported footwear during the TPP negotiations. “A TPP footwear provision that would only slowly eliminate duties and would incorporate a complex rule-of-origin undermines the important opportunity presented by the TPP to craft a high standard 21st century agreement that allows U.S. brands to reinvest duty savings in innovation and maintaining global competitiveness,” the letter stated.