- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 19, 2020

President Trump issued an executive order Sunday night giving the Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin the authority to defer certain tariff payments due to the coronavirus crisis.

The president’s order allows Treasury to defer tariff payments “for importers suffering significant financial hardship because of COVID-19.”

The order gives Mr. Mnuchin the authority to temporarily extend deadlines on some tariff payments.

It’s not clear what tariffs could be affected. But some U.S. companies are paying tariffs as high as 25% while dealing with lost sales and lower demand due to the widespread coronavirus shutdown.

The Treasury Department and Customs and Border Protection issued a interim rule later Sunday night providing importers with the option for a 90-day deferment period on the payment of duties, taxes, and fees.

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

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

Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said the deferrals don’t apply to tariffs on steel and aluminum.

“U.S. companies, including small businesses, will be better able to survive, make payroll, and retain workers over the coming weeks thanks to President Trump’s temporary duty deferral,” Mr. Brady said. “By postponing payments of certain tariffs owed on imported goods for 90 days, President Trump is helping save American jobs. This will free up much-needed cash, allowing these businesses to pay these duties when they, as well as the economy, are on sounder footing.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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