The White House’s top trade market rejected on Tuesday that the Trump administration was considering a three-month deferral of tariff payments on imported exported goods to lighten the pain of the economic decline caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Industry groups that represented domestic manufacturers and labor unions said that some U.S. corporate interests were seeking to convince the administration and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to embracement a deferment.
Americans for a Prosperous America wrote in a letter to CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan of its “deepest concern with the most recent information that your community is providing deferment duties on imports and exports and is also considering allowing a 90-day deferment for all duties.”
The group, chaired by former Nucor Corp CEO Dan Dimicco, a former advisor to President Donald Trump, said such a moratorium “harms U.S. producers who were injured by unfair imports and exports are now harmed by the coronavirus pandemic.”
Bloomberg recently reported that CBP and other agencies were discussing the proposal for a deferment, citing anonymous people familiar with the discussions and related information.
Trump’s top trade advisor and marketer, Peter Navarro, denied the report and said it was relied on unnamed sources with “no proper visibility into trade and security policy in this administration.”
“This is fake news,” Navarro, known for his hawkish viewpoints on China, told News services. “The Trump tariffs and rates have been an important and most significant defense against China’s economic state and its aggression, and we are stronger and independent today because they do exist. Lifting the tariffs would simply enrich the country at the outlay of American workers.”
“It was providing some importers extra days to pay duties, taxes, and fees on imported goods “due to the severity of the novel coronavirus disease pandemic,” CBP said on Friday.
A CBP spokeswoman rejected the comment.
Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a group led by the United Steelworkers union and domestic manufacturers, said his group aggressively went against the step being taken by anti-tariffs groups.
“The same alliance that pushed for ending the massive tariffs — and got nowhere — is now pushing forward to this,” Paul told Reuters. “We know they have lobbied the congressional leadership and administration. We are undoubtedly opposed to this.”
Paul’s group sent a similar letter to CBP’s Morgan, arguing such a move would lead to an increase in imports and exports that would hurt U.S. manufacturers at a time when they are struggling to survive the current economic crisis and deflation.
Another industry official noted that broadly distributed lockdowns would curve in consumer’s demand and result in dropping imports and exports, irrespective of what was done with tariff plans and rates.
No comment was immediately responded from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.
Earlier this month, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration was not considering massive relief from import tariff plans on Chinese goods to lighten economic pain from the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. economy has been struck by the coronavirus pandemic and also faced deflation. Democratic and Republican lawmakers were trying on Tuesday to hammer out a deal on a $2 trillion stimulus package to limit the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump last week recommended the Defense Production Act, which would allow the U.S. government to fasten the production of equipment needed to fight the contagion and buck up the losses. However, Trump has claimed that he does not need to use the law because many companies have offered to produce ventilators, sanitizers, and other items.