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Call it Miami goes to Washington.
On the final day of the FN CEO Summit, national politics took center stage as Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America President Matt Priest spoke about both the gridlock in Washington, D.C., and the intense lobbying efforts taking place behind the scenes on behalf of the shoe industry.
“Why engage Washington,” Priest asked in his opening remarks. “In 2012, the footwear industry paid almost $2.4 billion in duties on footwear imports. The taxes levied against our shoes coming across the border represent a dramatic figure.”
The duty rates for shoes amount to 10.1 percent, Priest noted. By comparison, the rate is zero for cell phones, 2.4 percent for tobacco and 2.5 percent for cars.
He said the FDRA has been working hard to get politicians to reverse the escalating tariffs on shoes, which have been in place for 83 years. But other issues such as health care reform have derailed any efforts toward a major overhaul.
“We need to fix the model,” Priest said. “We can’t control the rising costs of energy, labor and raw materials, but we can ask our government to help control the prices of goods coming across our borders. Our companies are being hit in a much more dramatic way with regard to duties than any other industry.”