Latest News on COVID-19
Senate Set to Advance $2 Trillion "Phase 3" Stimulus
On Wednesday, March 25th, the United States Senate reached a deal that is expected to advance legislation known as the CARES Act, a stimulus package that includes approximately $2 trillion in aid to help the U.S. 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 could be sent as soon as April 6th.
- 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.
Wednesday afternoon a group of Senate Republicans raised concerns about the unemployment provisions of the legislation, temporarily delaying its approval. Once approved by the Senate, it will be considered in the House of Representatives, where it is expected to be approved as soon as Thursday.
We will continue to update IWPA members as the bill advances to the House of Representatives and as more detailed summaries are available.
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.
CBP Considering Duty Delay Requests
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is also currently permitting importers to defer duty payments on a case-by-case basis for up to ten days, as stated in CSMS #42097586. This action allows companies to maintain a better cash flow. CBP is sympathetic to the impact the COVID-19 virus is having on importers, however, CBP does not have the authority to extend the proposed current 10-day relief. Experts believe that a presidential proclamation directing the U.S. Treasury Department to allow importers a longer period of relief is required. This action is expected sometime in the coming days, and it will provide companies some additional, but likely temporary, relief.
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.
A Note from the Executive Director on Industry Support for COVID-19 Response
the fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak continues to reverberate through
the global economy, I have had the privilege of speaking to IWPA
members who are on the front lines working to protect their businesses
and the jobs that so many in their communities rely upon. The
uncertainty about what comes next is troubling, but the thoughtful
leadership of so many IWPA members gives me confidence.
keeping operations running smoothly is paramount for our industry
leaders, I am hopeful that you will also look for ways to support the
national and global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both here in
Washington, D.C. and from my own family, I am hearing about the
importance of securing key items like N95 respirator masks. My brother,
who runs a health clinic in Wyoming, has stressed to me just how
important ensuring access to these masks is. On Tuesday, Vice President
Mike Pence asked companies that may have stores of them to donate them
to local hospitals to make sure medical professionals are protected as
they care for patients impacted by the pandemic.
at IWPA will continue to share timely information about COVID-19 and
the national and global response that could impact your business
operations. If you have particular questions or concerns, please do not
hesitate to reach out.
Virtual World of Wood to Include Session on COVID-19
This year’s first ever Virtual World of Wood,
which will take place April 1-3, will include a session entitled
COVID-19 Update and Resources. The session, which will take place
Wednesday, April 1st from 2:00 – 3:00 PM Eastern, will feature IWPA
Executive Director Cindy Squires and our government relations team Joe
O’Donnell of IWPA and Dan Neumann of Sorini, Samet & Associates as
they discuss the state of the U.S. response to COVID-19 and its effect
on trade as well as steps the U.S. government has taken to stimulate the
economy while businesses are following government guidance to slow the
spread of the disease.
Process for Accessing SBA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Lending
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.
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
Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state’s or
territory’s Governor to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster
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.
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%.
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.
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
U.S. and Canada Agree to Close Border to Non-Essential Travel, Trade Unaffected
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;
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.