Background

Companies are beginning to push for legislation directing U.S. Customs and Border Protection to suspend all import tariffs for 90 days as part of broader efforts now underway to aid the U.S. economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Those interested in participating in this initiative should contact trade consultant Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956.

CBP has discretion to delay import duty payments on a case-by-case basis, and in fact is already considering and granting individual requests. According to Collinson, CBP and the White House are debating whether or not to expand this program into a blanket suspension of all tariffs on all products.

However, companies in favor of such a move are seeking greater certainty than an administration policy that could be changed at any time. As a result, these companies are seeking support in Congress for legislation that would require a 90-day tariff suspension. The idea is already gaining traction, with a dozen senators saying in a March 25 letter to President Trump that a duty deferral “similar to the IRS providing Americans an additional 90 days to make tax payments without incurring interest of penalties” is a “commonsense” idea.

Nevertheless, Collinson said, more efforts will be needed to push this measure forward. Tariff relief is not included in the $2 trillion package of economic stimulus measures Congress was set to approve March 25, and Trump administration officials have thus far resisted the idea. Some business groups are opposing it as well, alleging that it could cause further economic harm.

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