Packages from China are surging into the United States. Some say $800 duty-free limit was a mistake

June 24, 2023  -WASHINGTON (AP) — Conservatives anxious to counter America’s leading economic adversary have set their sights on a top trade priority for labor unions and progressives: cracking down on the deluge of duty-free packages coming in from China.

The changing political dynamic could have major ramifications for e-commerce businesses and consumers importing products from China valued at less than $800. It also could add to the growing tensions between the countries.

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Under current U.S. law, most imports valued at less than $800 enter duty-free into the United States as long as they are packaged and addressed to individual buyers. It’s referred to as the de minimis rule. Efforts to lower the threshold amount or exclude certain countries altogether from duty-free treatment are set to become a major trade fight in this Congress.

“De minimis has become a proxy for all sorts of anxieties as it relates to China and other trade-related challenges,” said John Drake, a vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who argues that the current U.S. law should be preserved.

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