New Balance is once again fighting against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would lower tariffs on footwear imports and hurt its line of American-made footwear. In a new piece at the Boston Globe, New Balance's vice president of public affairs Matt LeBretton says the Obama administration offered them contracts to outfit the military with their sneakers in exchange for the brand keeping its anti-TPP sentiments quiet.
"We swallowed the poison pill that is TPP so we could have a chance to bid on these contracts,” says LeBretton. "We were assured this would be a top-down approach at the Department of Defense if we agreed to either support or remain neutral on TPP. [But] the chances of the Department of Defense buying shoes that are made in the U.S.A. are slim to none while Obama is president."
As New Balance is one of only a couple companies still producing sneakers in the U.S. on a large scale, it's been one of the only sneaker brands opposing the TPP.
Per the Berry Amendment, passed in 1941, almost all the gear worn by the military must be made in the U.S., with sneakers being one exception. LeBretton says that New Balance was working to create American-made shoes to comply with this law, and that the Department of Defense hasn't ordered any of them yet.
New Balance called out President Obama directly in 2015 after his visit to Nike's campus in support of the TPP.
Read more on New Balance's beef with the TPP and the Obama administration here.