The US footwear manufacturing industry would not be able to survive without import-sensitive tariffs, the Rubber and Plastic Footwear Manufacturers Association (RPFMA) has said ahead of the latest round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

The comments come in response to a study that claims that the elimination of footwear duties would have "no real impact"  on employment in the US domestic footwear industry.

Marc Fleischaker, trade counsel for the RPMA, said it is "reasonable" to exclude footwear from the negotiations with Vietnam in the TPP, a move that would protect more than 4,000 US manufacturing jobs.

"Our negotiators are in a good position to do right by domestic footwear manufacturers who have kept production and jobs in the U.S. despite market pressure to move overseas. All we ask is that the Administration maintain the status quo and keep import-sensitive tariffs on the books for the 1 percent of footwear that is made in the U.S," said Fleischaker.

"These tariffs do not restrict imports from Vietnam, but they do keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Trading them away means trading away manufacturing jobs that will never come back. It's that simple."

The RPFMA, which represents domestic footwear manufacturers such as New Balance, Genfoot, and OnGuard Industries, said discussions regarding footwear tariffs and rules of origin for components are expected to occur during the Brunei round, which will include ministerial level officials such as United States Trade Representative Michael Froman in addition to the negotiating teams for each member state.