Lawmakers urge continued support for U.S. shoe manufacturers

Posted by scapozzola on 05/10/2012

We reported recently on the New Balance Athletic Shoe Company-- the last major manufacturer of athletic footwear in the U.S. and the largest employer in Central Maine.

New Balance is a pillar of Maine's economy, but it could end up on rough footing if a potential Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being negotiated by President Obama contains provisions eliminating footwear duties.

The Hill's Vicki Needham reports that 19 House lawmakers, led by Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME, chairman of the House Trade Working Group), have sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk asking him to preserve existing tariffs on footwear imports included in a possible Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Michaud and his colleagues believe it is imperative for New Balance to be able to continue operations:

“The footwear industry has been gutted by foreign imports, including those from Vietnam," Michaud said.

"Our trade negotiators need to make sure that this trade deal doesn’t off-shore what’s left of our shoe manufacturers," he said.

While New Balance manufactures shoes in the U.S., much of the rest of the footwear industry operates outside of the U.S.  As such, they want to see any potential TPP eliminate duties on imported footwear.

This is a clear example of a domestic manufacturer at loggerheads with the multinational companies who have outsourced their operations to China, Vietnam, and other countries.

The question remains whether the U.S. economy is better served when consumers buy lower-cost goods from overseas, or when they have good-paying jobs?

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) argues very much in favor of retaining middle class jobs in order to preserve a vibrant economy.  Click here to read more about key steps needed to revitalize U.S. manufacturing.

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