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Outdoor recreation and its impact on the American economy took center stage at the U.S. Department of Commerce on Wednesday (July 27). The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and members of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR) met with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other administration officials to discuss outdoor recreation’s importance to the American economy, how increased partnerships can grow jobs and how trade agreements impact the outdoor recreation industry.

ORIR urged that the new Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) – created as part of the recently enacted Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (Outdoor REC) Act and managed by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis – be expedited and measure all outdoor recreation economic activity, not just the economic impact of recreation on federal lands and waters. ORIR offered to provide expertise, data and more to assist in the development of ORSA and urged that it then be used to influence public sector budget and policy decisions.

“While we are the quality of life and pursuit of happiness industries in the U.S., this is a serious business sector,” said RVIA President Frank Hugelmeyer. “There are huge portions of outdoor recreation economic activity that take place outside of federal lands. The industry stands ready to partner with the Department of Commerce to ensure the entirety of the outdoor recreation economy is included in ORSA.”

Additionally, ORIR members highlighted the economic importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the outdoor recreation industry, noting that 99 percent of RVs and 95 percent of boats sold in Canada are made in America. To preserve key trade partnerships with Canada and Mexico, ORIR recommended that the overall framework of NAFTA be retained but important “harmonizing” provisions be added.

The Secretary showed particular interest when Hugelmeyer explained the importance of harmonizing standards as they apply to electrical wire used in RVs. Currently, the wire requirement is the only barrier to full harmonization of the American NFPA 1192 RV standard and the Canadian CSA Z240 RV standard. RVIA’s government affairs team is already planning follow-up with Department of Commerce staff on this issue as well as other trade issues that affect the RV industry such as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

ORIR told Secretary Ross that it seeks to partner with the Department of Commerce to keep America’s recreation economy strong by ensuring that the American people and their international guests have access to healthy, active outdoor fun on their public lands and waters and outlined assets ranging from major communications channels to trade shows to fresh ideas.