The domestic footwear industry is sensitive to imported footwear that is manufactured from countries with dramatically lower wages as well as less stringent environmental and labor practices. Footwear produced in the United States is widely recognized as the highest quality. U.S. manufactured footwear exports increased by 8.7 percent between 2013 and 2017.
Opposition to Expanding GSP to Include Footwear and Apparel
USFMA strongly opposes efforts to remove the longstanding footwear and apparel exemptions from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
GSP provides duty-free treatment to roughly 120 developing countries and territories. The program is designed to help the world’s poorest nations use trade to grow their economies and climb out of poverty. A fundamental part of GSP is excluding import sensitive industries that would be damaged from cheap imports. Both the footwear and apparel industries have always been recognized as import sensitive domestic manufacturing industries.
Any attempt to remove the longstanding exemption of footwear and apparel from GSP will fundamentally damage these American manufacturing industries. USFMA opposes all efforts to remove either the footwear and apparel exemptions from GSP.
USFMA supports the chapters of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that are related to footwear. Similarly, USFMA supports the proposed footwear-related chapters of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Duty-free trade among the three North American countries serves the best interests of their economics and citizens, as well as the long-term geopolitical interests of the continent. We urge the negotiators to find solutions to issues delaying the USMCA agreement.
Free trade among our closest trading partners has been vital to the survival of the domestic footwear production industry, and any threat to those relationships represents a significant potential challenge to not only its workers, but its consumers as well. Any destabilization of these relationships would inflict significant damage to the U.S. footwear industry, which has long been a cornerstone of the proud American manufacturing tradition.
Currently, Mexico and China represent our two of our most important trading partners. We regard the USMCA as a vital underpinning to these important relationships, particularly for the footwear industry. We urge policymakers to expedite the ratification and implementation of the USMCA, as any additional delay would significantly impair the industry’s ability to sustain and create jobs for working American families.
Section 301 Tariffs on Footwear Components from China
USFMA supports efforts to create fairer trade between the United States and China particularly with regard to Chinese government subsidies, state-owned enterprises, workers’ rights and intellectual property.
USFMA opposes the use of punitive tariffs on imported component materials that are used in domestically manufactured footwear. The tariffs have the unintended consequence of increasing the cost of an American-made footwear. As currently implemented, the inclusion of new tariffs on footwear components is hurting the domestic manufacturing industry.