U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman toured the New Balance athletic shoe factory in Norridgewock, ME. Joined by New Balance CEO Rob DeMartini,
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, and U.S. Sen. Angus King, the group spoke to New
Balance associates about their work and why it’s important
to save American manufacturing jobs by maintaining footwear tariffs
in place, according to a report in Bangor Daily News.
The plant has nearly 400 employees. New Balance also has facilities in Massachusetts, Michigan and Missouri. Its Maine facilities in Norway, Skowhegan and Norridgewock consist of more than 900 workers.
“We’re asking the administration to do everything they can to focus on jobs in America, not jobs in Asia,” said DeMartini, according to BDN.
Froman is the U.S. ambassador helping negotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement being negotiated among countries in North America, Asia and Australia.
Commenting on USTR Michael Froman’s visit today to a New Balance factory, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) President Matt Priest released the following statement:
“I am pleased that United States Trade Representative Michael Froman has taken an increasing interest in the footwear industry, which today employs hundreds of thousands of workers in America. Our member companies represent more than 300,000 U.S. jobs including design, marketing, manufacturing, distribution and retail all part of the global value chain that helps sustain and grow all segments of the U.S. economy. We urge Ambassador Froman to consider these jobs too in making final decisions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
We invite Ambassador Froman to tour any of our members’ headquarters, distribution centers or retail outlets so he can meet the faces of the 21st Century footwear industry.
Less than 1% of shoes sold in the U.S. are made here and even shoes made in factories like the one Ambassador Froman toured today are made entirely from or include key imported components, mostly from China. Exorbitant duties have done nothing to keep manufacturing jobs here and have hampered the industry’s ability to increase jobs in other areas of the supply chain. Crafting trade policy that benefits all American footwear jobs and keeps footwear affordable for U.S consumers should be a priority of Ambassador Froman and the Obama Administration.”