AAFA Welcomes Order for Duty Deferral and Says More Needs to be Done

April 20, 2020 | WASHINGTON, D.C.

American Apparel & Footwear Association President and CEO Steve Lamar welcomed the partial duty deferral provided by the Trump administration via Executive Order, while acknowledging that more needs to be done to help American businesses survive the COVID-19 crisis. The Executive Order provides authority to the Secretary of the Treasury and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to defer a limited number of duty payments up to 90 days if a company can show economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However it does not defer duty payments or fees on any goods that face punitive tariffs imposed by the Trump administration in its trade war with China.

“Deferring duty payments and import fees in a time of limited liquidity is a welcome move. As revenue has receded due to closed stores and less commerce, American companies have been faced with the difficult decision to pay their tariff bill to the U.S. government or keep American workers on payroll. The deferral of these payments will provide some of the liquidity needed to keep more Americans employed and more American companies operational during this crisis,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. “Thanks to those in Congress and the administration who advocated for this relief. Still, there is more that can and should be done. Limiting the goods that qualify for deferral will in turn limit the relief that is provided for America’s employers and also limits the beneficial impact for U.S. supply chains that have been mobilized to meet the personal protective equipment shortage we face domestically. We urge that all goods – including textiles, apparel, footwear, and accessories facing Section 301 tariffs – be covered by this deferral action. Every day we have to pay those duties means another day we can’t pay our workers. 

“Finally, it is past time for Congress to pass additional stimulus measures to help our country through these health and economic crises. These measures should include sufficient funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, business interruption insurance, employee retention and inventory tax credits, and main street lending for all. AAFA stands ready to provide insight on behalf of the apparel and footwear industry that employs nearly four million Americans.”