In the letter dated April 23, the industry associations jointly urge the Congress to establish a program that allows U.S. origin textiles and leather exported abroad to be deducted from the dutiable value of a finished good when the good is imported into the U.S. The proposed programme would build upon existing customs rules that already allows importers to deduct the cost of U.S. metal materials from the value of the imported article by adding similar exemptions for U.S. exports of textiles and leather. Under the current rules, the value of those U.S. metal components is not assessed the U.S. tariff when an article that incorporates those components is imported. 

“The strength and future growth of the U.S. hides and skins industry depends on a robust export market for those products,” said Stephen Sothmann, President, USHSLA. “We encourage Congress to take swift action to establish a program that will incentivise the use of U.S. hides and leather in articles made abroad, which will in turn bolster U.S. export values and secure thousands of American jobs.” According to the USHLA, the programme would firmly root U.S. inputs into global production supply chains by signalling that U.S. content, whether that content comes in the form of a recognised stand-alone component or is incorporated into a finished article, is exempt from an applicable import duty.

The U.S. hides and skins industry exported more than US$2.08 billion in cattle hides, pigskins and semi-processed leather products in 2017, representing a US$40 million increase compared over 2016.  Further, U.S. hides and skins companies, including producers, processors, brokers and dealers, are reported to regularly export over 90% of total production.

Industry associations having co-signed the letter include the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), the U.S. Fashion Industry Association (USFIA), and the American Association of Exporters and Importers (AAEI).