US President Issues Order Deferring Some Tariff Payments

President Donald Trump issued an executive order recently giving treasury secretary Steven T Mnuchin the authority to defer tariff payments ‘for importers suffering significant financial hardship because of COVID-19’. The order gives Mnuchin the authority to temporarily extend deadlines on certain tariff payments. It was unclear what tariffs could be hit.

Treasury said the action “addresses many of the growing concerns raised by importers and manufacturers, and it reduces the financial burden of these stakeholders.”

But some US companies are paying tariffs as high as 25 per cent while dealing with lost sales and lower demand due to the shutdown.

The treasury department and customs and border protection (CBP) issued an interim rule later providing importers with the option for a 90-day deferment period on the payment of duties, taxes, and fees, according to US media reports.

“By postponing the deadline to deposit certain duties, taxes, and fees for 90 days, we are providing much-needed relief to affected businesses,” Mnuchin said. “This will protect American jobs and help these businesses get through this time,” he said.

Welcoming the decision, the National Retail Federation encouraged the US administration to broaden these deferrals for additional relief.

“This deferral provides some retailers with additional liquidity and better cash flow, giving hope for business continuity and a faster recovery once the pandemic has passed,” it said.