New legislation that proposes to eliminate tariffs on imports of outdoor performance apparel into the US, as well as funding research into sustainable manufacturing technology, was introduced yesterday (15 July).

The Recreational Performance Outerwear Act of 2008 (HR 6483) is thought to be the first ever trade bill specifically for outdoor performance apparel manufacturers.

It creates new classifications for specific types of high performance recreational outerwear, makes those specific products duty free and funds research in environmental technologies to make the production of outdoor apparel as environmentally sound as possible.

The bill, introduced by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), will also "lower the cost of recreational apparel so more people can gear up for the outdoors at a lower price."

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has spent the past two years working closely with Mr Blumenauer on the legislation.

It aims to correct existing and outdated tariffs under which, for example, high-tech ski pants are classified in the same general category as polyester dress slacks and high-performance jackets are taxed in the same category as generic windbreakers.

The new legislation applies to all finished recreational performance outerwear, regardless of country of origin.

Provisions are included in the bill to specifically protect US fabric manufacturers and western hemisphere apparel manufacturers and to invest in research and development jobs in the US. 

"The Recreational Performance Outerwear Apparel Act focuses on specific, high performance outerwear and separates these specialty outdoor products from general, mass market apparel," said Frank Hugelmeyer, OIA president.