Latest News on COVID-19
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Resources
The U.S. Paycheck Protection Program (Treasury Fact Sheet) authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The loan amounts will be forgiven as long as the loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the eight week period after the loan is made AND employee and compensation levels are maintained. Additionally, loan payments will be deferred for six months.
Small businesses can apply through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. A list of SBA lenders is available here.
The PPP application form is available here.
Summary of "Phase 3" Economic Stimulus as Signed into Law
On Friday, March 27th, President Trump signed into law legislation known as the CARES Act, a stimulus package that includes approximately $2 trillion in aid address the economic damage done by spread of the coronavirus.
Key provisions of the stimulus include:
- Direct payments to Americans of $1,200 with an additional $500 for each child. The payments are phased out for Americans making more than $75,000 per year and are expected to hit bank accounts within two to three weeks.
- More than $350 billion for new small business retention loans that will be forgiven if workers are retained.
- Increases the amount and duration of unemployment insurance payments.
- $500 billion to back loans to corporations as well as state and local governments.
- $150 billion for hospitals and other health care providers for equipment and supplies.
We will continue to update IWPA members key provisions of this new law are enacted.
U.S. Federal Government Designates Wood Products Industry as 'Essential'
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has designated those who work in the wood products industry as an essential critical infrastructure workforce during COVID-19 response. This designation is advisory in nature, made in order to inform state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as they make decisions with respect to continuity of operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, some states have incorporated this federal guidance in while others have not (see daily snapshot above for the latest state by state information).
IWPA urges employers to provide employees with a letter highlighting this designation if they are traveling to and from work when restrictions on travel have been imposed.
USTR Asks for Comments on Section 301 Products Helpful to U.S. Response to Coronavirus
On March 20th, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative asked stakeholders to propose modifications to the Section 301 duties on goods from China that are relevant to the medical response to the coronavirus. As an example, IWPA will be communicating to USTR that wood products are important inputs to the manufacturing and construction sectors that can be vital to keep our critical infrastructure operating in this crisis. Many state and local governments are turning to RVs and mobile homes to help with the response effort. Those that supply this industry via manufacturing, importation and distribution are critical infrastructure that needs to be supported.
Canada and Mexico Agree to Close Border to Non-Essential Travel, Trade Unaffected
The U.S. has reached agreements with Mexico and Canada to close their shared borders to “non-essential” travel. All three governments have made clear that trade in goods between the countries is not affected by this closure.
Canada Announces $82 Billion COVID-19 Economic Response
Today the Government of Canada announced that it is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to help Canadians facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The economic measures are intended to help stabilize the economy during this
challenging period. These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses. Additional information here.
As U.S. federal agencies work to address the spread of coronavirus, the government has assembled helpful resources to assist stakeholders. A clearinghouse of resources has been assembled at www.coronavirus.gov
Of particular interest to IWPA members are:
U.S. Small Business Administration has also compiled guidance for
businesses and employers to plan and respond to coronavirus;
Process for Accessing SBA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Lending
- The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
- Any such Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA makes loans available statewide to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state’s or territory’s Governor to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance.
- Once a declaration is made, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to affected small businesses within the state.
- These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
- SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
- SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.
For additional information, please visit the SBA disaster assistance website at https://sba.gov/disaster.
IWPA Calls to Action
IWPA staff is working with allied industry associations to gather information to inform policymakers about the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. business and trade operations.
- The American Association of Exporters and Importers (AAEI) is asking companies involved in international trade to complete an eleven question AAEI COVID-19 Survey in
order to inform CBP and the U.S. policymakers about the fallout from COVID-19 on the trade community. AAEI will be sending out the survey every week for the next month or so and is urging companies to participate every week so they
can track changes to companies' trade operations and global supply chains.
Urge Your Senators to Sign Feinstein Letter on Duty Deferral
Senator Diane Feinstein of California is asking Senators to join her in signing the below letter to Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin urging him to direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to defer all tariffs for at least 90 days.
We are urging IWPA Members to call their Senators as soon as possible and urge them to sign the Feinstein letter. It is as simple as calling your Senators and leaving the message along these lines: "At this time of great economic uncertainty, businesses like mine in (city or town) that rely on global supply chains are facing short-term liquidity issues due to the taxes we pay in the form of tariffs on the goods we import. I am hopeful that the Senator can help
To join, your Senators' staff members can contact Justin Schardin at Justin_Schardin@feinstein.senate.gov.
The Honorable Steven Mnuchin
Secretary of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20220
Dear Secretary Mnuchin,
As numerous industries and individual businesses in the United States suffer extreme cash flow problems due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, I urge you to immediately issue a directive to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to defer all tariffs for at least 90 days, or until the crisis passes.
As you know, the coronavirus is causing major damage to the U.S. economy. While Congress has now enacted a wide variety of economic aid, many industries and businesses will still face significant cash-flow problems. Retailers have already had to close more than 47,000 stores in the United States and we anticipate that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American workers at retail companies and the thousands of companies that supply them may be furloughed in the coming weeks. Additional measures to help businesses ensure they have enough liquidity to weather the crisis are necessary.
At such a moment when Congress has clearly indicated that deferring employer taxes should be a part of the U.S. response to the crisis, the Treasury Department should direct that all tariffs will be deferred for at least 90 days and, more broadly, until the companies paying them can emerge from the ongoing crisis.