Collins, King Urge Administration to Resolve Tariff Issue Harming Maine Employers

Letter to Secretary Mnuchin addresses issues raised by Maine’s retail industry, as well as importers and small businesses

Washington, D.C.— U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, calling on him to adjust the temporary tariff deferral process for U.S. companies that are experiencing economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

 

On April 19, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order providing the Treasury Department with emergency authority to extend deadlines for payment of certain duties, taxes, and fees. 

 

“We write today to continue to press for tariff relief for companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic… [The Executive Order] was an opportunity to provide significant and immediate relief, but unfortunately, we have heard from many constituents who are not able to benefit or expect only limited assistance,” the Senators wrote.  “We request that you use your authority granted in the April 19 Executive Order to adjust the deferral process to provide broader relief as soon as possible.”

 

“We appreciate Senator Collins’ and Senator King’s leadership on domestic manufacturing. Continued duty relief is an urgent issue for New Balance and many other companies facing significant business challenges due to COVID-19.  New Balance benefits by being able to defer costs associated with importing component parts that go into our athletic shoes manufactured in Maine and Massachusetts,” said Amy Dow, Director of Public Relations and Government Affairs, New Balance Athletics, Inc.

 

“We urgently call attention to the devastating consequences our Maine business faces due to the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic on top of the crushing cash demands we are subject to with Sec. 301 tariffs,” said Carrie Blakeman, Managing Director, Rogers Collection.  “An immediate deferral of these tariffs will grant us instant relief of compounding cash flow pressures due to customer closures countrywide resulting in uncollected receivables.  Our business supports many Maine families, from our immediate staff to contractors we employ, to our Maine-based insurance and bankers’ employees to the food retailers, e-tailers and curbside restaurant workers that are all working endless hours to keep their businesses alive.  The Sec. 301 tariffs are punishing U.S. businesses and in this time of pandemic we support the expansion of relief measures to include the halting of Sec. 301 tariffs to help our company survive to the benefit of Maine workers.”

 

“Like so many other sectors of the economy, retail has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, the federal government’s duty deferral program designed to aid retailers excluded some companies. We appreciate the efforts of our U.S. Senators to ensure all retailers facing these challenges receive temporary relief from duty payments.” said Stephen Smith, President and CEO of L.L.Bean.

 

Additionally, the Senators called for:

 

  • Additional time for companies to apply to receive duty relief.  The midnight deadline on Monday, April 20, did not provide companies enough time to react;

 

  • The process used to determine financial hardship be adjusted to a sliding scale model;

 

  • An extension of duty relief for as long as economic uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 crisis continues;

 

  • The Executive Order to be expanded to include merchandise subject to Section 301, 232, and 201 tariffs.  Payments will be made at the end of the deferral period, but the reprieve would provide immediate relief for businesses in states, such as Maine, that are facing severe cash flow problems during these unprecedented times. 

 

In March, Senator Collins sent a letter to Secretary Mnuchin, calling on him to temporarily defer tariffs for U.S. companies that are experiencing economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Click HERE to read the full letter.