White House Changes Stance on Tariffs

Following outcry from vendors and retailers in the outdoor industry, the Obama administration has announced that it will no longer oppose the renewal of eight tariff relief provisions covering outdoor footwear in the new year.

The Outdoor Industry Association had last month organized an outreach campaign among its member companies to protest the decision, which the OIA said could result in immediate price increases on certain outdoor shoe styles.

But while a continuation of tariff relief would avoid immediate price hikes of 38 percent, the OIA said it is committed to fighting for 10 more miscellaneous tariff bills, all of which are still facing administration opposition.

“We’re definitely pleased that [the Obama administration has] reversed its position on the eight extensions, but it’s not over,” said Alex Boian, director of trade policy for the Boulder, Colo.-based OIA. “It’s a pretty significant battle, but the war is still raging.”

On Nov. 30, the Obama administration announced it will withdraw its opposition to the renewal of eight miscellaneous tariff bills concerning outdoor footwear — specifically, footwear using a waterproof breathable membrane construction, similar to those made by Gore-Tex, Outdry and eVent.

The additional bills at issue would reduce duties on, among others, predominately leather boots that also use waterproof, breathable membranes.

According to Boian, tariff relief bills have saved the outdoor industry more than $30 million since they were first enacted in 2007 and renewed for 2009. The OIA said the savings have been redirected to create new American jobs and invest in companies, and has resulted in growth in the product categories covered.