Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) hailed Friday’s introduction of the U.S. OUTDOOR Act, groundbreaking legislation that was introduced simultaneously in the United States House of Representatives (H.R. 3168) and United States Senate (S. 1439). Led by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Greg Walden (R-OR), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Todd Akin (R-MO) in the House and Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) in the Senate, the U.S. OUTDOOR Act is the realization of two years of development and consultation between OIA, outdoor industry apparel manufacturers, the U.S. textile industry and these leaders in Congress.
“Today’s introduction of the U.S. OUTDOOR Act represents a commitment from Representatives Blumenauer and Walden, their colleagues in the House, and Senators Wyden and Crapo and their colleagues in the Senate, to the 6.5 million jobs in the active outdoor recreation industry, the economic viability of the thousands of outdoor businesses across the country and the millions of Americans seeking healthy and active lifestyles through outdoor recreation,” remarked OIA President and CEO Frank Hugelmeyer. “But this bill is also an investment in the United States as a global leader in the sustainable, eco-friendly business practices that are core values of the outdoor industry and the future of our economy. We look forward to enactment of this important legislation.”
The U.S. Optimal Use of Trade to Develop Outerwear and Outdoor Recreation (OUTDOOR) Act incorporates three critical components: (1) it creates unique classifications specific to recreational performance outerwear – high-tech apparel, designed especially for outdoor recreation such as hiking, biking, skiing or snowboarding, hunting, fishing, mountaineering and other recreational activities – in the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule; (2) it eliminates the disproportionately high tariffs on these products while preserving the competitiveness of U.S.-based manufacturing; and (3) supports U.S. jobs and technologies focused on sustainable, eco-friendly apparel supply chains.
“At a time when Americans are trying to save money however they can, this bill will make outdoor apparel more affordable while creating investment and job opportunities at home,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “This bill removes unnecessary tariffs on apparel not currently made in the U.S. In addition, the companies that benefit from these reduced tariffs will be required to contribute a portion of their savings toward research programs that are developing ways to keep America’s apparel industry globally competitive and more environmentally sustainable. This is a win for consumers and a win for strong American companies like Columbia, REI, North Face and others looking to reduce costs, improve the quality of their goods and implement sustainable processes.”
“Like many Oregonians, I enjoy Oregon’s diverse outdoor recreational opportunities. That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan bill that will remove unnecessary tariffs that penalize consumers and clothing companies in Oregon that produce and sell high-tech recreational performance outerwear,” Rep. Walden said. “Oregon is home to a variety of large and small outdoor clothing manufacturers and retailers that provide good jobs at a time when unemployment in Oregon is at a record low. This bill will remove unnecessary and burdensome costs and allow these companies to create new jobs.”
The U.S. OUTDOOR Act is based on a 2007 U.S. International Trade Commission report that confirmed there to be no commercially viable production of recreational performance outerwear in the United States. OIA 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 active outdoor recreation’s $730 billion annual contribution to the U.S. economy.
“We are blessed with immense natural resources to explore, and outdoor recreation is great for our well-being,” said Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). “This recreation also brings us many economic benefits, creating jobs for thousands of Americans. Removing unnecessary tariffs on recreational outerwear and improving its affordability can better enable more people to benefit from outdoor recreation. These efforts benefit our nation’s physical and financial health.”