Congress Addresses Shoe Tariffs in Southeast Asia

Members of Congress have sent letters to U.S. trade representative Michael Froman asking to remove footwear duties from the countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, including Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

According to the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America, Vietnam is the second-largest supplier of footwear to the U.S., after China, and accounts for 8 percent of imports. Current U.S. duties on certain footwear categories can be as high as 67.5 percent.

More than 45 members of the House of Representatives and 15 U.S. senators representing both political parties have signed letters requesting the elimination of duties from the eight other nations involved in the TPP negotiations.

“U.S. tariffs on footwear do not reflect the global supply chain of the footwear industry,” Sen. Ron Wyden said in a statement. “While much of the high-paying jobs in design and innovation are found in the U.S., almost all of the manufacturing is done at different points around the world. Eliminating the high tariffs on footwear that is not manufactured in the U.S. will help lower costs for consumers and help grow an American industry that is creating good-paying jobs here at home, including through domestic manufacturing.”

“TPP will provide a new free-trade zone that will lead to economic growth and job creation in the U.S., but it’s important that American consumers are not placed at an unfair advantage,” Rep. Aaron Schock said in the statement. “Current rules reflect an outdated tariff structure that needs to be updated so that domestic companies and consumers are placed on a level playing field.”

Matt Priest, president of the FDRA, applauded the action.

“This demonstrates strong support for a position that will help create and sustain thousands of American jobs from a group of legislators that will actually vote for the agreement,” Priest said in the statement.

Echoed Greg Tunney, FDRA chairman and CEO and president of R.G. Barry Corp., “More and more, Congress understands the importance of eliminating duties on footwear to help both American workers and consumers who paid $7 billion extra on their shoes last year due to these outdated tariffs.”

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