A Welcome Move to Protect American Manufacturing
April 11, 2024

On Friday, April 5, 2024, the Biden administration announced a new crackdown on the de minimis loophole. E-commerce sites and Chinese manufacturers consistently exploit this loophole to allow products that should be subject to tariffs into the USA duty-free. The same holds for international manufacturers of medical supplies.

AMMA applauds Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s statement, “We are dedicated to ensuring a fair and level playing field for American businesses.”

This announcement is pivotal. The loophole’s exploitation poses an even graver risk to the American economy and jobs than previously understood. This significant move underscores how our elected leaders should safeguard vital industries from unfair competition and ensure American workers’ prosperity.

Recent revelations underscore the alarming magnitude of the threat posed by the de minimis loophole. Parcels under $800 are not subject to duties and are often waved through security. The number of shipments subject to this provision reached one billion in 2023 per US Customs and the Wall Street Journal. This figure has doubled since 2019 and represents almost 3 million packages daily.

Reports by GlobalData reveal that the exploitation of this loophole has escalated to unprecedented levels, resulting in economic sabotage that undermines the competitiveness of American businesses. The influx of low-cost imports threatens to decimate domestic industries and jeopardize millions of jobs across various sectors.

A recent interdiction by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) further underscores the urgency of addressing this issue. The interception of a de minimis shipment of luxury items worth over $11 million in Louisville is a stark reminder of the loophole’s susceptibility to abuse and its potential to inflict severe economic damage. Such incidents highlight the need for immediate action and underscore the vulnerabilities in the current regulatory framework that allow unscrupulous actors to exploit loopholes for their gain at the expense of American workers.

Lawmakers and stakeholders have united in recognition of the existential threat posed by the de minimis import loophole. As reported by CNBC, a coalition has emerged, uniting stakeholders across industries in a collective call for comprehensive reforms. Their concerted efforts reflect a growing consensus on the imperative of closing this loophole to protect American businesses, preserve jobs, and fortify the nation’s economic resilience.

The impact of the de minimis loophole extends to nearly every industry, including domestic manufacturers competing against foreign bad actors. Nowhere is this more evident than in crucial sectors like healthcare, where reliable PPE is essential to safeguarding public health and supporting frontline workers. However, the influx of low-quality imports facilitated by the loophole not only compromises the integrity of these vital supplies but also undermines domestic manufacturers, threatening the stability of the supply chain and exacerbating job losses.

Secretary Mayorkas added, “The textile industry, like other industries, suffers when competitors use forced labor, violate customs laws, and engage in other illegal practices to undercut U.S. businesses and drive prices unfairly low.” The Secretary has also indicated that he may pursue criminal investigations into certain violations, including those where the Chinese may be utilizing Uyghur forced labor.

By cracking down on the de minimis loophole, the Biden administration is joining with bipartisan leaders in Congress and taking decisive action to mitigate the dire economic consequences facing American workers and businesses. Closing this loophole not only levels the playing field for domestic industries but also protects jobs and promotes fair competition. Moreover, it sends a clear message that the administration is committed to upholding American workers’ interests and ensuring the nation’s long-term prosperity.