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March 30, 2020

U.S. Lawmakers, Outside Groups Ask White House To Suspend Tariffs

As The Wall Street Journal reported, last week the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began sending notices to companies saying federal officials will approve some delays in tariff payments. Then on Friday, March 27, CBP issued a brief notice announcing the agency “will approve on a case by case basis additional days for payment of estimated duties, taxes and fees due to this emergency.”

Some U.S. lawmakers want more and have asked that the Trump administration institute a broad, 90-day moratorium on tariff collection. According to a separate story from The Wall Street Journal, (the Trump administration could take that action this week. Specifically, on March 25, 12 Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee, led by Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), sent a letter to President Donald Trump recommending a number of trade actions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including imposing a “total moratorium” on new tariffs or other measures that would “create uncertainty and raise costs for trade.” Additionally, the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users has asked for the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs to be suspended. The Aluminum Association has made the same request for market countries.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a letter sent to the administration on March 24 by the American Iron and Steel Institute, said, “Any efforts to delay or reduce the collection of duties on unfairly-traded steel imports or imports that threaten to impair U.S. national and economic security will ultimately hurt U.S. workers and businesses during this unprecedented moment.”

The Metals Service Center Institute is reporting these developments here for its members information only.

In related news: in a petition filed last week, U.S. steel importers formally asked the Supreme Court to decide whether the Section 232 tariffs on imported steel are constitutional.