Trade Cases

Tariff Relief On Then Off Again

Written by Sandy Williams


Relief for importers paying tariffs was just a short-lived illusion. U.S. Customs and Border Protection walked back a decision last week to provide extensions on tariff payments during the coronavirus crisis.

A notice sent on March 20 by CBP stated that it would “approve on a case by case basis additional days for payment of estimated duties, taxes and fees due this emergency.”

Yesterday a new bulletin was issued to “notify the trade community that CBP is no longer accepting requests for additional days for payment.”

CBP said it retains “the right to allow additional days for narrow circumstances including physical inability to file entry or payments, due to technology outages or port closures.” Any payments that were delayed following CBP’s initial announcement were now due to the agency by March 27.

No explanation was given for the change, but it did follow heavy lobbying by organizations that were against any let-up of tariff measures during the pandemic. President Trump also expressed his opposition to tariff relief in statements earlier this week.

On Wednesday, Trump signaled that he may move ahead with tariffs on the European Union. After complaining about regulations on EU medical devices that prevent the import of such devices from the U.S., Trump said the EU has treated the U.S. very unfairly on trade.

“They make it almost impossible for us to have a fair deal,” said Trump. “They know this. They know I am just waiting. We have all of the advantages, by the way. It is going to be easy when I decide to do it [tariffs], but this isn’t the right time to do it. But we have been treated very, very unfairly by the European Union.”

The administration is also considering an executive order prepared by trade advisor Peter Navarro that would require U.S. companies to reshore pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing. Such a move is opposed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union.

“This is the worst possible time to try to dictate how companies should fulfill the needs of hospitals, doctors and patients who are desperately in need of their live-saving products,” said Marjorie Chorlins. Chamber senior vice president for European affairs.

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