WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is considering postponing tariff payments on some imported goods for 90 days, according to people familiar with the matter, as it looks to ease the burden on businesses hurt by the pandemic.
Some businesses and trade groups have argued that the levies President Trump imposed on foreign metals and products from China continue to raise their costs and weigh on their profits at a time when the economy is slowing sharply. But in recent weeks, Mr. Trump and his advisers have denied that cutting tariffs would be one of the measures they would undertake to buoy the economy.
The White House now appears to be considering a proposal that would defer tariff duties for three months for importers, though it would not cancel them outright. The administration’s consideration of a deferral was first reported by Bloomberg News.
It is not clear which tariffs the deferral might apply to, or if the idea will ultimately be approved. But the proposal appears to be separate from a March 20 announcement by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that it would approve delayed payment of duties, taxes and fees on a case-by-case basis.
Administration officials have publicly denied the proposal. Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser, told Reuters on Tuesday that the story was “fake news.”
Leading business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S.-China Business Council have pressed the administration to roll back tariffs permanently as part of its emergency economic response.
In a letter to the president on Wednesday, Republican members of the Senate