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Bill Would Reduce Tariffs On Performance Apparel
Vol. 822 
June 7, 2011

A bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives last week would reduce tariffs on performance apparel. If enacted, the U.S. Optimal Use of Trade to Develop Outerwear and Outdoor Recreation Act would create harmonized tariff schedule breakouts for knit and woven recreational performance outerwear and change tariff rates for these items to duty free, eliminating what bill sponsors say is a "hidden tax." Current duties far exceed state sales, supporters say.

The upshot of reduced tariffs is that shirts, jackets and pants made for performance activities would be more affordable for consumers and help domestic designers and vendors better compete in the global economy, the bill's sponsors maintain.

"The enjoyment and exploration of the outdoors is not just a cornerstone of American recreation, but it is also the basis of a major job-creating industry," said Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), lead co-sponsor of the bill along with Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). "Many local businesses cater to this adventurous spirit, and I am happy to have found yet another instance in which smart trade policy can help these employers spur growth, remove a hidden tax on consumers, and foster greater interest in outdoor recreation. This bill is a needed update to the antiquated, unreasonably high tariffs set on recreational performance apparel that will both boost sales and enable families to more affordably outfit themselves for weekend camping trips and summer vacations."

Major outdoor clothing brands like REI and Columbia support the legislation. "The U.S. Outdoor Act helps encourage development of innovative and affordable performance outerwear, which in turn supports enjoyment of the outdoors by consumers," says Matt Hyde, executive vice president of REI.

Both the United States International Trade Commission and the Committee for Implementation of Textile agreements have concluded that imports of recreational performance apparel will not disrupt domestic markets or adversely affect domestic producers.

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