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Duty Relief: CBP Launches Deferral Program as Virus Roils Retail

Some brands and retailers could see duty relief for the goods they’re still bringing in.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the duty extension Friday afternoon, saying, “Due to the effect COVID-19 is having on the Trade industry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is accepting requests for duty-payment extensions.”

Those interested in seeking the temporary duty break should send requests to CBP director of commercial operations, Randy Mitchell.

So far, details beyond that are scant, and there’s little telling which requests will be honored or for how long the duties will be deferred. But with brands and retailers cancelling production orders daily and facing depressed demand amid the slew of store closures, interest may be high in sending requests for aid.

Customs did say, however, “CBP expects to issue a Federal Register notice in the immediate future with details on a longer-term, broader extension policy.”

In an interview with Sourcing Journal Friday, Vincent Iacopella, executive vice president of growth and strategy at Alba Wheels Up International Inc., a customs brokerage company, said because this extension is specifically due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s difficult to follow precedent for deferrals that were approved in the past.

“I don’t know how long the deferral period is at this point,” Iacopella said. “It exists, there’s a process in place where an importer can request relief from the payment. That’s all we know.”