Outdoor Industry Association and Snowsports Industries of America are working together to solve problems arising from the recent three-year, U.S.-China apparel agreement and the included exemption on ski and snowboard pants. The two organizations have drafted a joint letter which includes a ski and snowboard pant definition. This letter was sent to Jim Leonard, Chairman of the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements and Scott Quesenberry, Special Textile Negotiator at the US Trade Representative. A meeting of Leonard, Quesenberry and both OIA's and SIA's trade counsels is scheduled for April 6th.

The letter reads:

Dear Mr. Leonard and Mr. Quesenberry:

On behalf of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the Snowsports Industries Association (SIA), we greatly appreciate your decisions last year to release of certain ski/snowboard pants from the embargo in 2005 and the incorporation of a quota exemption for ski/snowboard pants in the U.S.-China Bilateral Textile Agreement. These decisions were vital to members of both industries.

As you know, the full effect of this exclusion is not being realized as a result of certain rulings by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP is interpreting the current language of the exclusion to require all seams to be sealed and all pockets to be enclosed. These unduly restrictive interpretations are at odds with the original intent of the exclusion. We appreciate your strong support in working with CBP to correct this situation quickly.

Under separate cover, SIA will provide copies of the letters requesting CBP to reconsider its rulings.

In order to address the serious problems confronting our members as a result of the quota on category 647/648, we are jointly offering the enclosed definition for your urgent consideration. Consistent with the policy rationale for the original exclusion, none of these pants are made in the United States. Furthermore, the total number of such pants would represent a small fraction of imports from China under Category 647/648. As such, we believe these modifications can be made without undermining the intent or effect of the original exclusion.

Given the need to make production decisions soon, we respectfully urge prompt consideration of this request…

The definition of Ski Pants reads:

The term “ski/snowboard pants” means ankle length pants, of water resistant or coated synthetic fiber fabrics, and two or more of the following: side openings; sealed seams at the front and back rise; insulation for cold or inclement weather protection; pockets with a means of closure (zippered or hook and loop enclosed pockets, or other type of enclosed pockets); scuff guards; elasticized or draw string weather closure around the waist or ankles; articulated knees; or reinforcement in the seat or knees. The term “ski/snowboard pants” includes articles similar to ski/snowboard pants that are designed, marketed, or intended for other purposes, but otherwise meet the criteria listed above. Ski/snowboard pants include all pants classified as parts of ski suits in HTS 6112 and 6211, as well as pants that possess the criteria described above and are classified in HTS 6103.43, 6104.63, 6113.0090, 6203.43, 6204.63, and 6210. The term water-resistant fabric means a fabric, whether knit, woven, or composite, that passes the test for water resistance described in Additional US Note 2 to HTS Chapter 62, whether or not the finished article is classifiable in the subheadings listed in Note 2. The term coated fabrics means fabrics of HTS headings 5602, 5603, 5903, 5906, or 5907, as well as knitted or crocheted pile fabrics impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics, including composite fabrics where the coating is consistently visible in the cross section. The term sealed seam means a seam that is sealed by means of taping, gluing, bonding, cementing or similar processes for the purpose of waterproofing the seam.