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OIA Hails Affordable Footwear Act

Published April 1, 2009

BOULDER, CO (BRAIN)—The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) applauded actions by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John Ensign (R-NV) to formally re-introduce the bipartisan Affordable Footwear Act (S.730), legislation that would permanently eliminate extraordinarily high tariffs assessed on certain specialty outdoor footwear.

The Affordable Footwear Act (AFA) was introduced last week with eight additional senators as original co-sponsors and comes at a time when many outdoor businesses are looking for ways to reduce costs.

The AFA eliminates duties as high as 37.5 percent on trail runners, light hiking boots and other specialty outdoor footwear. These duties, enacted nearly a century ago, no longer serve the intended purpose of protecting U.S. manufacturers, and are instead impeding the competitiveness of American outdoor companies. In fact, the legislation was developed in close consultation with the few remaining U.S. footwear producers to ensure products made in the United States remain protected.

“The duties that are eliminated by the Affordable Footwear Act amount to nothing more than a regressive tax on the consumer and can add as much as $100 to the retail price of outdoor shoes and boots,” said OIA president Frank Hugelmeyer. “We support the AFA’s goal of reducing costs for our member companies and ultimately making these specialty outdoor products more affordable and accessible so Americans can enjoy a quality outdoor recreation experience.”

OIA, through a coalition of footwear manufacturers and retailers, has been working with Senators Cantwell and Ensign to develop the bill and will now work for its Congressional passage. The AFA builds on legislation OIA successfully guided to law in December 2006 that has saved outdoor manufacturers an estimated $13 million over the last two years. A version of the AFA is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives soon.

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