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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 16, 2009

SCHUMER PUSHES BILL THAT WILL ELIMINATE HIGH TARIFFS ON OUTERWEAR; WILL BOOST SALES, REDUCE COSTS FOR NEW YORKERS THAT FISH, HUNT AND ENJOY THE GREAT OUTDOORS


Legislation Will Make Apparel for Hiking, Biking, Hunting, Fishing, Skiing and Snowboarding More Widely Available and Affordable to Consumers

Schumer Co-Sponsors Legislation To Eliminate Costly, Unnecessary Tariffs on Recreational Performance Outerwear

Legislation Will Boost Domestic Sales and Recreational Economy and Create Grant Program to Support Eco-Friendly Research and Practices

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that he is supporting legislation that will help lower costs of U.S. outdoor companies that produce or sell recreational performance outerwear by eliminating unnecessary tariffs.  Recreational performance outerwear has traditionally been subject to some of the highest tariffs in order to protect U.S. manufacturers from foreign competition. However, the high duties no longer serve that purpose and instead stifle innovation, add substantial costs for U.S. outdoor companies, and raise prices for consumers.  Schumer announced today that he is co-sponsoring legislation introduced by Senators Ron Wyden and Mike Crapo to eliminate these unnecessary costs. Outdoor retailers, such as Bass Pro, Eastern Mountain Sports, and Dicks’s Sporting Goods that could benefit from this legislation would have lower costs, allowing lower retail prices and increased affordability for consumers. 
 
The legislation also will create a competitive grant program that would provide support to U.S. entities for research and development of advanced eco-friendly, sustainable supply chain technologies and services. The bill is supported by the Outdoor Industry Association and NY-based companies including Jarden Corporation in Rye, NY – the parent company of many outdoor brands including Coleman, Marmot Mountain, and K2 Sports.  Cornell University and the Fashion Institute of Technology are potential beneficiaries of the eco-friendly grant program. 
 
“This legislation will boost the viability of outdoor businesses across the state and benefit New Yorkers seeking healthy and active lifestyles through outdoor recreation,” said Schumer. “This bill is a win-win for U.S. outdoor companies and consumers as it will remove unnecessary tariffs on apparel allowing for lower retail prices and increased affordability for consumers. The bill also is an investment in the United States as a global leader in eco-friendly business practices that will help promote economic development and support U.S. jobs and technologies focused on sustainable, eco-friendly research programs and services.”
 
Recreational performance outerwear - jackets and pants used for hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation activities - is assessed some of the highest duty rates applied to any products imported into the United States. While the average duty on imports is less than 2 percent, the rates on recreational performance outerwear average 17 percent, with some as high as 28 percent.
 
These disproportionately high tariffs were originally put in place to protect U.S. manufacturers from foreign competition, but now no longer serve that purpose and instead stifle innovation, add substantial costs for U.S. outdoor companies, and ultimately raise prices for consumers.
 
The U.S. Optimal Use of Trade to Develop Outerwear and Outdoor Recreation (OUTDOOR) Act, introduced by Senators Wyden and Crapo and co-sponsored by Senator Schumer, will help solve this problem in two ways: first, the legislation provides U.S. businesses with cost savings by eliminating unnecessary tariffs on recreational performance outerwear. Second, the legislation would help keep the United States at the forefront of technologies and services that support sustainable production practices by establishing a temporary competitive grant fund called the Sustainable Textile and Apparel Research (STAR) Fund.  The STAR Fund would allow qualified U.S. entities to compete for grants that support research and development of advanced eco-friendly, sustainable supply chain technologies and services. 
 
Active outdoor recreation contributes over $11 billion annually to New York’s economy through retail sales and services, supports more than 130,000 jobs across the state, and produces $800 million annually in state tax revenue.  The U.S. OUTDOOR Act will directly support New York’s recreation economy through lower costs for outdoor businesses in the state and for New Yorkers seeking healthy and active lifestyles through outdoor recreation.
 
The U.S. OUTDOOR Act is based on a 2007 International Trade Commission report that confirmed there was no commercially viable production of recreational performance outerwear in the United States.  The Outdoor Industry Association worked closely with outdoor apparel manufacturers and U.S. producers of textiles and performance fabrics to ensure the legislation does not impede any U.S. production, but in fact creates jobs in the outdoor industry and supports the economic contribution of active outdoor recreation.
 
 
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