Customs brokers caught in the middle of China tariffs debate



The White House appears to be at an impasse on the future of the Trump-era tariffs on imports from China: Keep them as leverage or lift them to help curb inflation? And while that debate inside the administration continues, the customs brokers caught in the middle are stuck waiting.

“We’re just wondering if it really is going to happen,” said Gretchen Blough, a customs brokerage manager at Logistics Plus in Erie, Pennsylvania. “When is it going to happen, and what particular commodities will be affected?”

Typically, Blough’s team of custom brokers can process imported goods a little earlier than when they’re physically unloaded from a ship. But if the tariff rules suddenly change, that could mean they have to adjust or even reprocess those goods. So Blough’s trying to plan ahead by slowing down.

“I have a fabulous team, and I had to tell them, ‘Please don’t be so efficient,’” she said. “‘Please clear the shipments that are coming from China a little bit closer to the actual arrival time, so if we have to make adjustments, we can with minimal interruption.’”

“They laughed,” Blough said, “because who gets told to be less efficient?”

To hear Blough’s story, click the audio player above.

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