Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Affordable Footwear Act?

Cheaper hiking boots could be coming to an outdoor retailer near you in the future! Members of Congress are apparently working on a piece of legislation, known as the Affordable Footwear Act, that could significantly lower the cost of hiking boots and other outdoor footwear.

Bi-partisan legislation from Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) would suspend import duties on outdoor footwear for five years. Also co-sponsored by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Mike Johanns (R-ID), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the bill would lower consumer costs, promote jobs and drive innovation in domestically produced outdoor footwear.

While the average U.S. tariff on consumer goods is 2%, tariffs on outdoor footwear products are as high as 37.5%. In fact, many of the high tariffs on outdoor footwear exceed federal taxes on cigarettes, a striking disparity which would be corrected by the Affordable Footwear Act’s passage.

The U.S. Treasury collects $2.3 billion in import duties on outdoor footwear each year. With mark-ups at the wholesale and retail level, those $2.3 billion in duties amount to a $7 billion tax on American consumers. The Affordable Footwear Act seeks to target $800 million of that $2.3 billion in import duties. This effectively translates into a savings of $2-3 billion for consumers each year.

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is working closely with its members to ensure that none of the products covered by the bill are produced in the U.S. Additionally, the limited duration of the bill will allow Congress to remove any products that may be made in the U.S. in the future.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) introduced the House version of the bill – HR 1708 – last spring. It currently has a bi-partisan group of 48 co-sponsors.

“This common sense piece of legislation will benefit consumers and businesses,” said Kirk Bailey, vice president of government affairs of Outdoor Industry Association. “By eliminating disproportionally high tariffs, this bill will fuel innovation in the outdoor domestic shoe industry and help create new jobs in the U.S. By lowering costs for consumers, the Affordable Footwear Act of 2013 will make outdoor recreation and outdoor products more affordable for more Americans.”

OIA is asking its members to urge their Senators to become co-sponsors on the bill.


Jeff
Hiking in the Smokies

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