Recent Press Releases
Jul 18 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C.-During a news conference on Capitol Hill today, U.S. Senator Susan Collins urged support for America's footwear industry and expressed concern that American jobs could be threatened by a trade agreement currently being negotiated.
Domestic rubber footwear manufacturers depend on long-standing duties that are levied on certain imported footwear products in order to continue to manufacture and produce high-quality footwear here in the U.S. Joined by officials from New Balance, which has factories in Norridgewock and Skowhegan, Senator Collins expressed concern that the final "Trans-Pacific Partnership" free trade agreement may not recognize the importance of these duties to the domestic industry, therefore putting U.S. manufacturers at a disadvantage compared to competitors who manufacture overseas.
"Maine has a long and proud shoemaking history," said Senator Collins. "It was once one of the largest employers in our state-with more than 30,000 workers employed in the industry. Today, just 900 jobs remain. Over the last 30 years as most domestic manufacturers have shifted production to low-wage countries such as China and Vietnam, the companies represented here today have continued to make investments in American factories, providing thousands of American manufacturing jobs.
"Over the last week, there has been a good deal of controversy over where the U.S. Olympic uniforms were made," Collins continued. "To all of those people who care about the "Made in the USA label," and to the Administration, I would say this is your opportunity to support American workers and ensure the survival of a domestic footwear manufacturing industry."
Background: The United States is currently negotiating a regional free trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement, with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Mexico and Canada are expected to join in the negotiations. Vietnam is the world's second largest footwear exporter to the United States after China. Senator Collins and other members of the New England delegation have repeatedly urged the Administration to exclude from the agreement duty cuts for core products of the domestic rubber footwear industry. U.S. manufacturers depend on approximately 20 long-standing duties that are levied on certain imported footwear products in an effort to level the playing field and remain competitive.