One of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to renegotiate NAFTA, and he’s not holding back: Last week was the deadline for stakeholders to submit comments regarding possible renegotiations. The Outdoor Industry Association has written a letter to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative highlighting the outdoor industry’s trade priorities.
OIA hopes any changes to NAFTA will result in a more gear-friendly trade agreement.
“We’re calling on the administration to preserve the gains that we’ve made, and improve other core parts of NAFTA, like labor rights and environmental protections,” said Rich Harper, OIA’s trade director.
According to OIA, pulling out of NAFTA would be a major blow to the industry, as it could result in high tariffs. That could be devastating to the 7.6 million jobs that the American outdoor recreation industry supports, Harper says.
The outdoor industry has benefitted from lower tariffs as well as expanded markets in Mexico and Canada, which represent significant numbers of consumers for many outdoor brands.
“We need to have a trade agreement with our closest trading partners,” said Kelly Nester, CEO of Nester Hosiery, which owns American manufacturer Farm to Feet. “Canada is a big consumer of cold weather apparel, and is a large and important market for us.”
OIA has asked to preserve some of NAFTA’s original language, and also hopes to build on advances in labor rights and environmental protections. NAFTA has been criticized for a lack of enforcement of labor and environmental policies, and OIA hopes that any new deal would place these issues front and center.
“Labor rights and the environment are core values in the industry, and also to consumers,” Harper said. “It’s important to us that those values are represented in the agreement.”
Read OIA’s full letter here.