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90-Day Duty Deferral Granted but Eligibility Limited
American Shipper
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Importers of record suffering a significant financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic may postpone for 90 days their deposit of certain estimated duties, taxes, and fees. However, there are significant limitations on eligibility for this deferral and a midnight April 20 deadline for associated adjustments to periodic monthly statements for April.

In the meantime, businesses are still pushing for legislation that would susp additional tariffs, for all entries, for a longer period.

Deferral timeframe – Estimated duties, taxes, and fees paid on a single pay basis or daily statement may be deferred up to 90 days from the payment due date. Estimated internal revenue taxes may be deferred up to three months from the payment due date. Estimated duties and fees paid via periodic monthly statement may be deferred up to three months, as defined by the 15th working day of the third month.

Eligibility – The deferral applies to formal entries of goods entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, including entries from foreign-trade zones, in March or April 2020.
To qualify, importers must have had their operations fully or partially susped during March or April due to orders from a competent governmental authority related to COVID-19 and, as a result, have gross receipts for March 13-31 or April that are less than 60 percent of their gross receipts from the comparable period in 2019. Importers need not file additional documentation to be eligible for this relief but must maintain documentation establishing compliance as part of their books and records. CBP may conduct post-entry reviews or audits to ensure compliance.

Exceptions – The deferral does not apply when the entry summary includes any goods subject to antidumping, countervailing, section 201 (e.g., clothes washers and solar products), section 232 (e.g., steel and aluminum), or section 301 (e.g., imports from China) duties. When a shipment contains goods that are eligible for the deferral as well as goods that are not, CBP anticipates that importers will file two separate entries.
The deferral also does not apply to the payment of other debts to CBP, including (1) bills for duties, taxes, fees, and interest determined to be due upon liquidation or reliquidation, (2) fees under 19 USC 58c (except merchandise processing fees and dutiable mail fees), or (3) any penalty or liquidated damages due to CBP.
In addition, CBP will not return deposits of estimated duties, taxes, and fees that have already been paid.

Payment instructions – Importers and filers who take advantage of this deferral are responsible for scheduling payments accordingly, and CBP will not adjust statement dates. Any adjustments to the April periodic monthly statement must be made prior to 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 20. CBP is deploying s to the ACE SU statement transaction to provide importers and filers with more flexibility when removing entries from a PMS, including (1) no longer requiring entries removed from the statement to be submitted as single pay and allowing entries removed from one statement to be rescheduled for another, (2) allowing remote location filing entries to be removed from a PMS and scheduled for another statement, and (3) allowing importers and filers to schedule the month further out than two months to avoid further pushing the periodic daily statement date.

Interest and penalties – CBP will not assess interest during the 90-day deferral period or impose any penalty, liquidated damages, or other enforcement actions on appropriately deferred entries.
CBP has issued a temporary final rule aming its regulations to reflect this deferral and is accepting comments on it through May 20.

CBRE research examines the expected need for additional cold storage space, due to COVID-19

Demand for United States-based industrial cold storage space is on the rise, due to coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it s “massive disruption in the food industry,” according to research issued this week by Los Angeles-based industrial real estate firm CBRE.

The main thesis of the research, entitled “COVID-19 Impact on the Food Industry & Implications for Industrial Real Estate,” underscores how the food industry is undergoing a significant disruption from COVID-19, as U.S. consumers increasingly have groceries delivered to their homes (D2C) or are buying online and picking up in store (BOPIS). This was made clear in data CBRE cited from Adobe’s Digital Index, which pointed to the U.S. grocery sector seeing a 100% increase in daily online sales between March 13-15, in comparison to a baseline period of March 1-11. And it also cited a Brick Meets Click/Shopper Kit Survey, which saw 46% of respondents indicating they will continue to purchase goods online after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

CBRE also referred back to its May 2019 “Food on Demand Series: Cold Storage Logistics Unpacked,” which examined the relationship between e-commerce grocery growth and cold storage, and suggested that an additional 75 million-to-100 million square-feet of industrial freezer/cooler space will be needed to meet the demand generated by online grocery sales over the next five years.

What’s more, the report pointed to what CBRE called long-term impacts for the industrial cold storage sector, due to COVID-19, including:

l E-commerce grocery will become more widely adopted as consumer comfort grows with the practice. This will trigger the aforementioned heightened demand for cold storage capacity;
l Public refrigerated warehouse companies will likely consolidate to gain more control of the cold storage footprint;
l Since e-commerce is typically fulfilled by local grocery stores, retail footprints will include more storage and fulfillment space, including a greater need for infill temperature-controlled facilities in proximity to consumers;
l Restaurants may see a significant shift in dining formats with less dine-in options and more delivery or take-out that would require cold storage capacity. Foodservice companies that supply restaurants may look to second-generation cold storage space as a cost advantage in a limited dining environment; and
l Automation will increase, prompting higher-density, greater-height and smaller-footprint buildouts that will be required for around-the-clock operations

Matt Walaszek, CBRE Associate Director, Industrial & Logistics Research, explained that there are various challenges related to meeting the demand for an additional $75 million-to-$100 million square-feet of industrial freezer/cooler space in the coming years.

“The cost of building new cold storage is a huge barrier given that construction costs are two-to-three times higher than that of ambient (dry) warehouses,” he said. “Along these lines, finding sed subcontractors can be challenging and securing the necessary building materials is difficult – and this was in a pre-COVID-19 world. These properties must adhere to strict thermal integrity, therefore storing and distributing perishable items with different shelf lives means that different climates must be controlled while workers move the product in and out. Operating these facilities may become even more challenging with stricter guidelines implemented and adhering to health and safety.”

When asked whom the target tenants for these new build outs are, Walaszek pointed to 3PLs and public refrigerated warehousing companies, as well as potentially foodservice companies and some large grocers. Other tenants may include the likes of food companies supplying meal kits (although to a lesser extent), he noted.

The report also highlighted that because restaurants are down to 10%-to-20% of capacity and are only fulfilling delivery orders, there has been a shift to grocery that has forced distributors to adjust supply chains, with Walaszek observing that has been done in a few different ways.

“Some firms have ramped up their truck drivers and warehouse workers to meet the unprecedented demand,” he said. “Some have responded by increasing worker wages. Some food companies are also adding workers and working with retailers and supplier partners to help fill gaps that other distributors are simply too overwhelmed to handle. Connectivity between manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors has been greatly improved due to the crises, and what we’ve heard from CEOs of large grocery chains is that this will lead to greater efficiencies going forward, going a long way in improving overall supply chain, pricing, packaging, buying, etc.”

Carriers expect US imports from Asia to crater over next two months

Trans-Pacific carriers are doubling down on blanking sailings through mid-June, reflecting expectations they don’t expect significant North American demand wracked by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to return before summer at the earliest.

The implication of this deep slashing of capacity is that carriers — now engaged in annual negotiations with retailers and manufacturers for service contracts set to May 1 — see unusually low consumer demand that could ext to back-to-school shipments that will next month. Unless consumer demand picks up by early summer, imports during the peak holiday shipping season ning in July will suffer as well.

Furthermore, additional blank sailings could be announced because the Ocean Alliance has been lagging behind the 2M and THE alliances in reducing capacity, according to Sea-Intelligence Maritime Consulting.

“It is clear that Ocean Alliance has blanked substantially less capacity than the other two alliances, on all main trades,” Alan Murphy, CEO of Sea-Intelligence, said in the latest Sunday Spotlight. “Given they are faced with the same market dynamics, we would expect them to blank further sailings in the weeks ahead, to reach approximately the same level.”

Carriers and their customers are well into annual negotiations for service contracts, many of which will take effect May 1 and run through April 30, 2021. By slashing capacity for at least the next two months, carriers are indicating their bookings for summer and back-to-school shipments are unusually weak.

There have been reports of retailers canceling orders, and intercepting shipments in Asia and storing the merchandise there because of plunging consumer demand in the United States and Europe. Retailers are therefore concerned that slack consumer demand could continue well into the fall, which would force them to cut back on orders for holiday merchandise.

Retailers eye holiday orders with caution
Retailers at this time of year to place orders with factories in Asia for the holiday merchandise shipping period of July through October. Those orders are normally placed about six months ahead of the anticipated shipping date. Retailers are reportedly being quite cautious in placing orders for holiday merchandise as they wait to see how long stay-at-home mandates remain in place.

This week’s Sunday Spotlight details the unprecedented reduction in trans-Pacific capacity that is unfolding to both the West and East coasts of North America as retailers scrutinize short- and mid-term consumer demand reports.

Carriers since early February have canceled or announced 150 blank sailings into mid-June to the West Coast, Murphy said. Some 44 of the blank sailings were attributed to factory shutdowns for the Lunar New Year ning Jan. 25. Another 42 blank sailings in late February through March can be attributed to the effects of COVID-19. An additional 64 blank sailings have been announced for April to mid-June, Murphy said.

From Asia to the East Coast, carriers blanked 18 sailings due to Lunar New Year factory shutdowns, and another 13 sailings in February-March due to delays in reing factories in China because of the impact of COVID-19. Carriers since then have announced another 34 blank sailings exting into mid-June.

Highlighting that plunging consumer demand is a global phenomenon; carriers in the two largest trade lanes, Asia-Europe and Asia-North America, since mid-March have canceled or have scheduled 384 blank sailings into June. That equates to a total capacity reduction of 3 million TEU over the world’s two largest trade lanes due to COVID-19, according to Sea-Intelligence.

“This is 2.4 times more than what they canceled during Chinese New Year 2020,” Murphy said.

Ocean Alliance’s blank sailings lag 2M and THE Alliance
More blank-sailing announcements could be forthcoming. Murphy indicated the Ocean Alliance of CMA-CGM, Cosco, OOCL, and Evergreen has canceled or will blank only 11 percent of its capacity from Asia to the West Coast through mid-June. That compares with THE Alliance of Ocean Network Express, Hapag-Lloyd, Yang Ming, and HMM blanking 21 percent of its capacity, and the 2M Alliance of Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. blanking 22 percent of its capacity to the West Coast into June.

To the East Coast, the Ocean Alliance has canceled or has scheduled blank sailings totaling 11 percent of its capacity into June, compared with 2M and THE Alliance each blanking 19 percent of their capacity.

“We might well see further announcements in the coming week” if the Ocean Alliance chooses to cancel more sailings, Murphy said.

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