Affordable Footwear Act Reintroduced in House

H.R. 2697, the Affordable Footwear Act (AFA), was reintroduced Friday in the United States House of Representatives by Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS, 2nd), Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY, 7th), Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR, 3rd) and Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX, 8th), the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Trade. 

Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) joined manufacturers and retailers across the outdoor industry in applauding todays introduction. OIA and many member companies, worked hard to develop the legislation that will lower costs for outdoor industry footwear manufacturers and their customers while supporting U.S. production of outdoor footwear products.

With footwear being the fastest growing category in outdoor industry product sales, passage of the Affordable Footwear Act is a top priority for OIA.  H.R. 2697 was modeled after successful OIA legislation that has saved outdoor industry companies more than $25 million to date.  With the bills passage, the significant savings generated will be reinvested back into product innovation, job creation and lower costs for outdoor consumers.

The AFA would create a three year suspension of many of the disproportionately high import tariffs, some as high as 37.5 percent, that are assessed against outdoor footwear.  In fact, many of the high tariffs on outdoor footwear exceed federal taxes on cigarettes, a striking disparity that would be corrected with the AFAs passage.

The bill also ensures U.S. manufacturing that is currently underway in this area remains globally competitive by excluding products with American manufacturing. The bill is also temporary so that domestic production can be reevaluated after four years and products removed where appropriate.

The Affordable Footwear Act is a balanced, well crafted bill that is a win-win for everyone, said OIA President & CEO Frank Hugelmeyer.  The lower costs resulting from this bill will allow footwear companies to invest in new product innovation and U.S. jobs and will ultimately lower retail prices making these products more affordable and accessible by a broader range of Americans.

OIA encourages its members to support passage of the Affordable Footwear Act by calling or emailing your representatives and requesting they cosponsor the legislation.

Affordable Footwear Act Reintroduced in House

Reps. Joseph Crowley (D., N.Y.) and Kevin Brady (R., Texas) reintroduced legislation in the House of Representatives that would eliminate duties on certain types of lower-priced and children’s footwear.

The duty-dropping legislation would eliminate some $800 million in tariffs, or about 40% of the total duties the U.S. collects, on footwear imports annually.

Footwear companies have argued that the tariffs are a “regressive tax” and that the bill would act as a “tax cut” for consumers. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year, but did not advance.

In response, the  American Apparel
& Footwear Association(AAFA) applauded Representatives the re-introduction of the Affordable Footwear Act (H.R. 4316) in
the U.S. House of Representatives.

The association noted that a similar piece of legislation (S. 730), sponsored by Senators Maria
Cantwell (D-WA) and John Ensign (R-NV) and strongly supported by AAFA,
is currently pending in the U.S. Senate and has 15 additional Senate
bipartisan cosponsors.

“With all of Washington’s talk about strengthening the U.S. economy,
the Affordable Footwear Act is a quick and easy way to bring immediate
relief to hardworking American families,” said AAFA President and CEO
Kevin M. Burke. “The U.S. footwear industry is one of the first
industries to suffer in a recession,
and we are suffering more than ever because consumers are financially
strapped. The Affordable Footwear Act would help pass
along over $2 billion in instant savings to American consumers while
jumpstarting shoe sales.”

The AAFA said the Affordable Footwear Act will ease the tax burden on American
consumers who unknowingly pay upwards of 40% beyond the cost of
a pair of shoes at retail to cover the import duty, or shoe tax, on
shoes made outside of the United States. In reality,
the tax is unavoidable because 99% of the shoes purchased each
year in the United States are produced outside of the United
States. Moreover, the highest import duties, as high as 67%, are
on the lowest-cost shoes.

After its passage, the Affordable Footwear Act would eliminate about
$800 million in duties on children’s and low-cost shoes (out of the
$1.7 billion in total duties collected on imported shoes in 2008).

The AAFA concluded, “Undeniably, shoes are a life necessity, and the hidden and regressive
shoe tax places too high a burden on hardworking American families at a
time when they can least afford it. Quick passage of the Affordable
Footwear Act will be a
positive step towards restoring consumer confidence, increasing retail
sales, and protecting vital jobs in the U.S. footwear industry.”



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