FDRA seeks customs clarity on “athletic” footwear duties

United States
Published:  11 August, 2016

The Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA) sent a letter to U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) asking the U.S. Government to clarify and update the criteria for classifying footwear as athletic, which can increase or decrease the duty rate for these types of shoes.

With the explosion in the use of athletic-looking styles and technology in fashion and lifestyle footwear, many types of shoes that are not suitable for athletic activities continue to be classified by the U.S. Government as athletic. In fact, CBP has long struggled with the impact continued athletic footwear innovation has on classifying footwear as both the iconic Converse All-Star shoe and classic Keds sneaker are still classified as athletic footwear. It is safe to say that decades have passed since either shoe was used in any type of athletic activity by anyone. This is a clear distinction as intended use is the most important determining factor for athletic classification and not the inclusion of several characteristics that might be shared with athletic footwear.

"Innovation is transforming our industry at lightening speed and U.S. Customs has failed to keep pace," said FDRA President Matt Priest. "With 436 different ways to classify footwear embedded in a footwear tariff system launched in 1930, no one should be surprised that such an arcane system has failed to keep up with new and emerging designs and developments. The time is now for CBP to streamline and clarify the standards they use to classify athletic footwear and provide clarity to our industry."

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