President Donald Trump’s executive order April 19 to allow deferred payment of some import duties for 90 days doesn’t apply to furniture shipped from China.
Americans for Free Trade, a large business coalition including the Home Furnishings Association, has called for broader relief.
“The administration’s announcement to defer the collection of some duties for 90 days is welcome news and a good first step to help provide temporary relief to American companies that are fighting for their survival during the coronavirus pandemic,” Jon Gold, the coalition’s spokesman, said April 20. “Delaying the collection of certain duties will help free up cash for companies who desperately need it to stay afloat and preserve U.S. jobs.
“While we thank President Trump for listening to the concerns of businesses and taking action to help them get through this crisis, many companies were left out of this measure and will still owe significant – and in some cases a crippling amount of – tariffs to the federal government at a time when they are struggling to survive an unprecedented economic shutdown. We urge the administration to heed the call of hundreds of businesses and organizations to expand this Executive Order to all categories of tariffs, and delay collection of all duties for American companies.”
Furniture industry suffers financial hardship, too
The executive order allows a 90-day deferment on some payments for importers “who have faced a significant financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic response,” according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “This payment flexibility will be available only for importers with a significant financial hardship and will apply to payments for goods imported in March and April. Imports subject to duties associated with anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD), and Section 201, 232 and 301 Trade Remedies are not included in this relief effort.”
The “trade remedies” excluded from deferral include 25 percent tariffs on most home furnishings products imported from China. Although those imports were disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak in China, they are beginning to resume. Tariffs add significantly to costs for importers, retailers and, ultimately, American consumers.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin applauded the president’s decision to defer payment of duties, saying in a statement: “This will protect American jobs and help these businesses get through this time.” But the help would be more substantial if tariff relief were granted for all imports, including home furnishings products.
Tariffs have cost Americans $56 billion since the U.S.-China trade war began in 2018, according to Americans for Free Trade.