As frequent readers of this blog know, I was an economics major in college, I’m passionate about abolishing trade tariffs, and have an interest in shoes.
Well, imagine my delight when I saw this article at the Heritage Foundation:
Cut Shoe Tariffs to Help Low-Income Families
In this age of political strife, it is very good to see a bipartisan effort to make life easier for the poor. The Affordable Footwear Act (AFA) is such an effort. Introduced last month by Representatives Joe Crowley (D-NY), Kevin Brady (R-TX), and Nancy Boyda (D-KS), the AFA would repeal the disproportionate tariffs on shoe imports. High protectionist tariffs on inexpensive footwear hit the poor hardest, raising the price of a basic necessity. Congress should repeal the tariffs and help all Americans save a few dollars on their next pair of work boots, pumps, or sneakers.
But back to the article,
Shoes are the extreme case, with tariffs 10 times the average rate, and cheap sneakers face the highest tariffs the U.S. imposes on any manufactured good. These tariffs, magnified by retail markups and sales taxes, are included in the price families pay for shoes.
Footwear tariffs are simply a hidden, regressive tax on a household necessity. Their sole effect is to reduce the amount of income families have to spend on all other goods and services. This expense is most onerous for low-income families with children, who spend the largest share of their income on the necessities of life. The Affordable Footwear Act, which would eliminate cheap-shoe tariffs, is a straightforward way to help these families stretch their household budgets further.
The High Cost of Footwear Tariffs
Americans bought about 2.4 billion pairs of shoes last year. China, Italy, Vietnam, Brazil, and Indonesia are the top suppliers. The value of these shoes at the border was $19 billion, and the U.S. government collected footwear duties amounting to almost $1.9 billion on the shoes. While the average weighted U.S. tariff rate across all traded goods is 1.6 percent, tariffs on shoes begin at 8.5 percent for leather dress shoes, rise to 20 percent for running shoes, and peak at more than 60 percent for some grades of cheap sneakers.
Many tariffs are in place to protect American industries and jobs from international competition. But the shoe tariffs support virtually no domestic shoemaking and protect no U.S. manufacturing jobs, because America’s footwear manufacturers today produce specialty and high value footwear, not the kinds of inexpensive shoes that make up the bulk of imports. The inexpensive shoes and sneakers with the highest tariffs have not been made in the United States since the 1970s.
Support the Affordable Footwear Act.
It’s time to repeal the footwear tariff.