Americans for Free Trade Urges President Trump to Delay All Duties American Companies Pay to Federal Government; Free Up Billions of Dollars in Cash for Businesses Fighting for Survival

WASHINGTON, D.C., (April 28, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade urged President Trump to take further action to provide relief to struggling American businesses by delaying the collection of all duties and fees. The coalition of over 470 businesses also called on the Administration to expand its current program so that duties from May and June are also deferred. 

“The Administration’s announcement last week to defer the collection of certain duties for 90 days was a good first step, but many companies were excluded from this measure and will still owe significant duties to the federal government during a time of economic crisis,” said Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold. “As hundreds of small and large businesses face urgent liquidity issues, we are calling on President Trump to go further and delay all duty payments to help give companies the cash they need to stay open, preserve American jobs, and be in a position of strength when the economy reopens.” 

The Administration could expand the current Executive Order and defer collection of all duties without waiting on authorization from Congress. As it currently stands, the Administration is only deferring the collection of some duties and only for imports made in the months of March and April. Deferring all duties for imports made in March, April, May and June would instantly free up billions of dollars for companies, many of which currently have little to no revenue, to use to pay employees, suppliers, and other critical bills. 

The Americans for Free Trade letter was signed by over 470 businesses and organizations of all sizes, representing retailers, manufacturers and other service providers, as well as farmers and ranchers.  

The full text of the letter may be found here and below:

April 28, 2020

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump,

Thank you for your ongoing leadership to address the unprecedented economic challenges created by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Your leadership has included measures that have helped many businesses delay payments like income and payroll taxes to increase liquidity. The announcement to delay certain duties was another welcome step to help American companies stabilize their finances and buy time.

While this program will certainly benefit some U.S. companies, it will not benefit many others because certain important duties have been excluded and because it only covers imports made during the first half of March and April. While we understand the need to keep strong U.S. trade policies front and center, merely delaying the payment of these additional duties will not harm trade policy. The duties will still be paid, just at a later date. 

It is with this in mind that we make two urgent recommendations. First, we ask that you extend the program to cover imports made during May and June. Second, we urge that the program be expanded to defer the due dates for all duties and fees.

Combined, these two actions would immediately free up billions of dollars of working capital for American companies — like those listed below — to pay suppliers, employees, service providers and other critical stakeholders. This cash is even more important for companies that have had to close their doors because of stay-at-home orders, leaving them with little to no revenue to make ends meet.

Companies facing urgent liquidity issues need their duty payments deferred in order to succeed when the economy reopens. Deferring these duties will help further ensure the success of your Great American Economic Revival effort by giving companies the additional cash they need to stay open, preserve U.S. jobs and reopen their doors from a position of strength.

With future Congressional action uncertain, the American economy depends on your leadership and swift action. Your leadership alone can provide immediate relief to companies large and small from all sectors of the economy including manufacturers, retailers and other service providers, farmers and ranchers.