The American Apparel & Footwear Association welcomed Senate introduction of a bill to designate certain footwear as eligible for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. Under the proposal, certain footwear that is not produced domestically would be eligible to be added to GSP for the first time since the program was enacted more than 40 years ago. The legislation (S. 2032) was introduced yesterday by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS).

“Expanding the Generalized System of Preferences program to cover shoes will support and grow well-paying American jobs, from design and marketing to logistics and retail,” stated Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. “Duty reduction means U.S. footwear companies can reduce costs that can instead be invested in American workers, product innovation, and savings that can be passed on to consumers.”

“Thanks to Senators Cantwell and Roberts for their enduring leadership on footwear and on efforts to modernize the GSP program,” adds AAFA’s executive vice president Steve Lamar. “We urge the Senate to quickly pass this important bill. Just as important, we urge Congress to renew the overall GSP program before it expires at the end of this year.”

A House version of the bill (H.R. 2735) was introduced earlier this year by Representatives Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and is quickly gaining support.

GSP was established by the Trade Act of 1974 and is the largest and oldest U.S. trade preference program. By providing duty-free access to critical inputs and other products no longer made in the United States, GSP directly benefits American workers, American consumers, and American businesses. AAFA has been a strong supporter of the GSP program.