A group of leading US domestic footwear producers has voiced its support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, believing the trade pact would strengthen their domestic manufacturing facilities.

The firms set out their backing in a letter to US Trade Representative Michael Froman, which also details how the TPP would also add "new jobs for Americans in trucking, warehousing, retail and port logistics."

Blake Krueger, chairman, president & CEO, Wolverine Worldwide; Jim Issler, president & CEO, HH Brown Shoe Company; Alan Cahill, executive vice president, Elan-Polo; and Koya Oba, president, LaCrosse Footwear, signed the letter. 

These four companies operate factories in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Oregon respectively.  In the letter they point out that high tariff rates on imported footwear [which average over 10% and can reach up to 67.5%] "…have done little to keep footwear manufacturing jobs in America" and instead serve as an added cost in supply chains and a hidden tax on American consumers.

They continue: "The savings that TPP would provide to our industry – $450m in the first year alone and $6bn over the first decade – could be used to strengthen our domestic operations.

"Further, lowering barriers in foreign markets through TPP means that we could see meaningful growth in footwear exports. By both lowering costs on our imported products and allowing us to sell more of our American-made footwear abroad, our companies would be stronger financially and would be able to invest back into our domestic operations."

"Today, more than 99% of the entire US footwear industry, domestic manufacturer and importer alike, supports the TPP because it will boost our industry through job creation, increased innovation, and lower costs," explains Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA).

"Contrary to many assumptions and news reports, many of the largest domestic footwear manufactures support TPP because they see it as a way they can cut costs on their imports, providing additional investment capital to reinvest here at home."

The letter comes at a time when many are studying the economic impact the TPP would have on American companies and workers.