On April 27, 2020, Ashley Craig was quoted in FreightWaves discussing the new 90-day duty deferral option announced on April 18 to provide some relief for importers and brokers during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the article, it allows for the delayed deposit of customs duties that were due March 1-April 30 for companies "experiencing significant financial hardship as a result of COVID-19."
Craig said the first thing an importer or broker needs to do is determine who can qualify for the deferral. "You have to go through essentially a hardship calculation according to Trump's executive order," Craig said. "The importer has to show they have been fully impacted during the month of March 2020 or April 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, which includes being impacted by the government shutdown — limiting commerce, travel, group meetings, etc. And you demonstrate that you are being adversely impacted by looking essentially at your current financials and then looking at last year’s."
Some duties are not covered by Trump's executive order, including anti-dumping and countervailing duties, which include steel and aluminum tariffs and 301 duties against the European Union and China. Craig said importers must make sure to have a separate line entry for customs goods from China, versus other countries, to take advantage of the deferral.
"There's a lot of red tape here before you can actually take advantage of it," Craig said. “What we're telling clients is to take a look at the order, look at the customs implementing rules, start with your financial situation and let’s make certain that you are at that 60% level or greater. And then from there, move into further analysis of what you’re importing."
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