OIA Reacts to Obama’s Tariff Stance

The Obama administration’s opposition to continued tariff relief for certain outdoor footwear products made outside the U.S. has sparked a strong reaction by industry trade groups. They warn that a Jan. 1 expiration of existing tariff relief could prompt significant price increases on some outdoor footwear products.

The Outdoor Industry Association this week organized an email campaign for its members directed to U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk and U.S. Dept. of Commerce Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank, as well as senators and representatives, to urge the inclusion of certain miscellaneous tariff bills that would temporarily suspend taxes on outdoor footwear.

The Obama administration announced on Nov. 16 that it opposed 18 proposed tariff bills, eight of which are extensions of existing ones.

“By opposing these bills, the administration is forcing immediate and unexpected cost increases, some as high as 38 percent, on outdoor suppliers, manufacturers and retailers,” said the OIA’s email. “Many of these products have already been priced and sold to retailers for 2013. The devastating consequences will no doubt result in lost profits, product shortages, employment contraction and a threat to the economic viability of many outdoor companies.”

The OIA, along with the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, authored a joint letter to Kirk and Blank protesting the administration’s opposition.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association and the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America have also sent letters of protest.

According to the OIA, the issue is one that could affect the industry broadly, as footwear makes up more than 30 percent of sales at outdoor specialty shops.