To Our Valued Customers:
The Covid-19 situation impacting all of us is constantly evolving and we want to continue to advise what we are seeing and experiencing in the market. At Laufer, we are committed to providing you with as much information as possible as quickly as possible, understanding, of course, that events are quite fluid and changing rapidly.
Here is a shortlist of what we are seeing this week:
Imports of Emergency Medical Equipment: There has been a dramatic surge in the import of emergency medical equipment to assist in addressing the needs of US hospitals and consumers. The imports of these products are very complex and the FDA has stated this is an important area of focus for them. They will be paying close attention to documentation, licensing, and other special requirements to ensure the goods meet all US requirements and standards before being distributed around the country. For more information, we have created the following general information sheet, found here. Additionally, notice was sent out from the Port of Seattle/Tacoma that shipments containing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) would be treated with expedited US Customs clearance as they come through that particular gateway.
US Customs & Participating Government Agency Operations (CBP & PGA): Many ports have issued standard ‘potential delays’ notices. Some processes and procedures for paper document submission have been altered. Several ports are only open certain days of the week with reduced staff, and many employees are working from home around the country. Specific issues should be handled directly with the port of entry. We will most likely begin to see some back ups and additional exams through Customs and some PGAs – FDA specifically, with the surge of increased imports of medical and emergency relief products.
*NEW* Duty Deferral: Although CBP initially indicated that importers could apply for duty deferral on an individual basis, they have since suspended allowing those requests. On Friday, 3/27 there were reports that a 90 day duty suspension was close to being enacted, but during a press conference on 3/31, President Trump addressed duty deferral by stating nothing has been approved. On 4/3 White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow stated that the President would not be moving forward with any broad duty deferral plan. References to these stories can be found here and here. Pressure from the import community and some political figures are providing for continued discussion on the topic.
Section 301 and 232 Tariffs: Section 301 and 232 tariffs are still being collected on any applicable imports. Exclusions to Section 301 tariffs, however, are continuing to be granted on a rolling basis which is providing importers some relief on particular products. Three sets of exclusions were granted in the month of March.