Lower Barriers to Trade for Washington’s Retail Companies

Learn more through our factsheet!

Washington’s trade economy is based on our ability to competitively export products while leveraging global supply chains to create affordable goods that are sold across the country and world. We need to open new markets to our goods and services by fighting protectionist barriers that artificially bar Washington exports, as well as pass new policies like the Affordable Footwear Act and the U.S. OUTDOOR Act that would save consumers money and help our retail companies create high paying local jobs.

Washington is home to the headquarters of many retailers that import footwear and performance outerwear, such as REI, Amazon, Nordstrom, Outdoor Research, Brooks Sports and Eddie Bauer. Legislation like the Affordable Footwear Act and the U.S. OUTDOOR Act would save consumers money while helping our retailers and  apparel companies that do their manufacturing overseas. More sales for these companies means more high-skill jobs – like research, design and merchandising – for our state’s residents.

Affordable Footwear Act

The Affordable Footwear Act would eliminate shoe import tariffs on certain shoes, mostly lower-to moderately-priced and children’s footwear. While these tariffs were originally implemented to protect the U.S. shoe industry, domestic employment has shrunk from 250,000 people in the 1950s to fewer than 15,000 people today. Approximately 99 percent of all footwear sold in the United States is now imported, which means that the only impact of these tariffs today is to make shoes more expensive for U.S. consumers. In fact, lower priced footwear faces the highest tariffs of any product category, ranging from 37.5 to 67.5 percent. Luxury footwear, on the other hand, only faces a tariff of 20 percent.

The Affordable Footwear Act would save consumers money while helping to improve profits for our retailers and local footwear companies that do their manufacturing overseas. In recognition of this fact, both Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell have been co-sponsors of the legislation.

U.S. OUTDOOR Act

The United States Optimal Use of Trade to Develop Outerwear and Outdoor Recreation (US OUTDOOR) Act would establish new classifications for “recreational performance outerwear” that will separate these specialty products from mass market garments and eliminate the disproportionately high, unnecessary tariffs assessed on them. Recreational performance outerwear – jackets and pants used for skiing and snowboarding, mountaineering, hunting, fishing and dozens of other outdoor activities – is assessed some of the highest duty rates applied to any products imported into the United States. The Senate version of the legislation also breaks new ground by establishing the Sustainable Textile and Apparel Research (STAR) Fund. The bill will invest STAR Fund resources in American jobs and U.S.-based technology that focus on sustainable manufacturing practices through supply chain efficiencies, minimizing water and energy use, reducing waste and other initiatives that reflect the ethics of the outdoor industry.

The U.S. OUTDOOR Act would save consumers money while helping improve profits for our retailers and local outdoor apparel companies that do their manufacturing overseas. In recognition of this fact, Representative Dave Reichert (WA-8) introduced the House version of the bill, and Senator Maria Cantwell introduced the Senate version.

Join WCIT in supporting the reduction of market access barriers and tariffs that raise costs for Washington consumers, manufacturers and retailers. To learn how you can get involved, contact Eric Schinfeld at erics@wcit.org or 206.389.7273.