BETHESDA, Md.—Americans for Free Trade, a coalition of hundreds of businesses and trade associations, has penned a letter urging the Trump Administration to delay collecting import duties and fees for March through June. The move, the group said, builds on steps already taken by the administration, and would "free up billions of dollars of working capital for American companies."
The Trump Administration's partial duty deferment covered just parts of March and April.
"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," Jonathan Gold, a spokesman for Americans for Free Trade, said in a statement. "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."
In the letter, the coalition argues that capital made available by deferring payments would allow U.S. manufacturers and importers facing urgent liquidity issues during the COVID-19 pandemic to pay suppliers, employees, service providers and other critical stakeholders.
This cash is especially 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, the coalition said, noting that the Trump Administration earlier suspended such fees for certain industries.
Americans for Free Trade also stressed that it's asking the administration to delay the duties, not suspend them. The duties still will be paid, just at a later date, the group said.
"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," the letter states.
Among those signing the letter in support of the measure are: Elkem Silicones USA; Lanxess; American Chemistry Council; Auto Care Association; Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association; and Specialty Equipment Market Association.