After 27 U.S. Congress members sent a letter supporting the easing of tariffs through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (see Shoe Intelligence of May 7), another 18 have weighed in on the other side. They are asking Ron Kirk, U.S. trade representative, to keep the tariffs in place, arguing that they are necessary if American companies want to compete on a level playing field. Vietnam is a participant in the TPP talks, and is the second-largest source of footwear imports to the U.S. One of the congressmen seeking the continuation of the tariffs says that Vietnam doesn't “play by the rules,” claiming government intervention, currency manipulation and low labor standards. The opponents also urged the government to include strong rules of origin in the TPP, and to require that at least 55 percent of footwear products come from countries involved in the agreement, which also include Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and Peru. Supporters of lifting the duties say that that would free up money for American companies to invest in research and development while keeping prices down.