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ACMA Adds Core New Issue: De Minimis Exception

The ACMA was launched in 2007 following a punishing round of postal rate hikes that was clearly decided upon with no input from anyone within the catalog industry. As our organization grew, other catalog-unique (and later, remote commerce-unique) issues, such as the need for Federal remote sales tax collection and consumer privacy bills.

The ACMA has begun to get involved in an issue that’s hurting many of our members – but it’s one in which we also believe we can reverse the course: The De Minimis Loophole or De Minimis Exemption is a provision in U.S. trade law that allows packages with contents under $800 to enter the U.S. duty free under a simplified procedure that avoids tariffs and bypasses bans on imported goods made with forced labor.

Mixed Feedback About SHEIN Continues To Dominate Social MediaOur Board has formally approved and asked us to hit the ground running to close this loophole, which has been in place since 1938 and was intended to apply to Americans returning home from abroad with souvenirs at the time. Fast forward to 2024, however, and the loophole is used by China-based e-commerce businesses such as Temu and Shein sending clothing and other goods directly to U.S. customers, avoiding the same scrutiny customs gives bulk shipments.

We can change this and have a fair bit of momentum behind us already. Consider the following:

  • June 2023: U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Import Security and Fairness Act (S.2004) to end de minimis treatment for goods from China and Russia, and to require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to obtain more information about de minimis packages entering the country. The same legislation was introduced in the House (H.R. 4148) by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
  • January 2024: The House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Biden Administration to consider changing the rules to close the de minimis loophole and crackdown on the import of goods linked to forced labor.
  • February 2024: A group of 40 Democratic lawmakers, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alexander Mayorkas urging the Secretary to crack down on the de minimis trade loopholes allowing cheap fast-fashion products, and deadly drugs like fentanyl, to flow into the U.S.
  • March 2024: Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rick Scott (R-FL) called on the Biden Administration to take immediate executive action to close the loophole. Sen. Brown said that the issue is too urgent to wait to pass legislation and calls for immediate executive action.
  • March 2024: The new Coalition to Close the De Minimis Loophole was announced. The coalition of labor unions, domestic manufacturers, business associations and other interest organizations is backing the Import Security and Fairness Act. Reps. Dan Bishop (D-NC) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are also working on with the coalition.

As the ACMA mounts an action plan, we call on industry members impacted by the loophole to emphasize the following to the lawmakers listed below:

  • The de minimis exemption is routinely exploited by Chinese companies importing duty-free cheap goods made with Uyghur forced labor, without oversight. Meanwhile, the loophole is harming American retailers abiding by U.S. law are unable to compete, having to pay high import duties.
  • Closing the de minimis loophole would put American sellers on more equal footing with Chinese fast fashion companies while increasing the security and oversight of packages coming into the U.S. from overseas.
  • It is not a Republican or Democratic issue: leaders across the aisle recognize the urgency of closing the de minimis loophole for the sake of security, fair competition in the retail sector, and human rights.

If your company has any sort of presence in their districts, we urge you to take these talking points to the following Members of Congress:

Senate Committee on Finance
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – Co-Sponsor of S.2004
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) – Co-Sponsor of S.2004
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) – Co-Sponsor of S.2004
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) – Ranking Member

Other Senators
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) – Co-Sponsor of S.2004
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) – Letter Author
Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) – Co-Sponsor of S.2004

House Ways and Means Committee
Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA) – House Select Committee Member
Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) – House Select Committee Member
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) – Co-Sponsor of H.R. 4181
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) – Co-Sponsor of H.R. 4181
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) – Letter signer
Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)- Letter signer
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ)- Letter signer

Other House Members
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) – Letter Lead
Rep. Christopher Deluzio (D-PA)- Co-Sponsor of H.R. 4181 and letter signer
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) – Co-Sponsor of H.R. 4181 and Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee

More to Follow
More about this will be discussed at next month’s ACMA National Forum in Washington. If you’re not yet registered to attend, I’d urge you to soon, as space is tightening up. Click here to register. Meantime, we’ll keep you posted on this crucial matter as things evolve.

Best,
Mike Plunkett
President & Executive Director
ACMA
mplunkett@catalogmailers.org
O: 703-524-0096
M: 703-268-383

 

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Restricted Status: Each Fund will be separately administered as restricted under the direction of the ACMA Board of Directors by the ACMA Treasurer and our association accountant. An elected Officer from the Executive Committee or the ACMA Board will authorize disbursements. Details on expenditures will be made available to any material contributor on request. Restricted funds may be released only upon authorization of the benefactor or in the event the contributing entity is defunct, by vote of the ACMA Board.

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Lynn Noble

President & Executive Director

New Member Development & Acquisition; Postal Affairs

Lynn Noble is ACMA’s Vice President, Industry Relations, having joined the ACMA in May 2015, following an extensive direct marketing career in private industry as well as the US Postal Service. He is responsible for leading the membership development efforts for the ACMA through new member acquisitions and providing enhanced member value.

Throughout his career, Lynn has held key marketing & sales positions with several leading direct marketers, as well as several high-level management positions with the US Postal Service.

In 2009, at the request of the ACMA, the US Postal Service initiated a new position of Catalog Manager to lead the Service’s efforts to stabilize and grow the catalog industry. Lynn returned to the USPS to lead those efforts and was instrumental to developing a stronger industry partnership between the Postal Service and the catalog industry. Serving as the product manager for catalogs, Lynn helped to raise the awareness of catalog-specific business challenges within the executive ranks of the USPS. During his tenure, the ACMA and catalog companies enjoyed a collaborative and progressive environment that produced more stabilized rates and inclusion in key USPS promotional opportunities.

Just prior to joining the ACMA Lynn was the USPS’s Manager, Strategic Account Operations, leading a team of senior sales professionals who focused exclusively in the Catalog, Mail Order, and E-commerce arena. In addition to his Postal positions, Lynn previously held key positions with leading direct marketing companies, including Cox Target Media, Market Logic, Catalina Marketing, Freesamples.com, and Advantage Direct.

Paul Miller

Vice President & Deputy Director

Association Matters, Marketing / Communications, Membership Relations

Named Vice President & Deputy Director in January 2010, Miller came to the ACMA following a lengthy career of more than two decades following the catalog/multichannel/e-commerce/retail businesses. Reporting to ACMA president & executive director Hamilton Davison, Miller oversees marketing and communications, membership development, and organizes and oversees ACMA’s National Catalog Forum, while working with Davison on most of ACMA’s postal-related efforts.

Miller started his career as a reporter with Catalog Showroom Business, following a form of retailing that was led by the likes of the Service Merchandise and Best Products retail chains.

After several years of editor/reporter roles with business magazines that followed the toy and gift industries, Miller was named associate editor of Catalog Age magazine (now Multichannel Merchant) in 1986. He rose up the ranks at Catalog Age over the next 18 years to be the magazine’s senior news editor.

Beginning in the late ’80s, Miller became Catalog Age’s postal beat reporter, where he’d follow key postal events and pull out the key catalog mail-related issues for readers. During that time, he attended many Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meetings and National Postal forums.

After leaving Catalog Age in 2004, Miller consulted with several catalogers and multichannel suppliers for a time, he was named news/website editor at Commercial Property News. Less than a year later, he was asked to take the reigns at Catalog Success (now All About ROI) where he served as editor-in- chief from 2006 till the end of 2009.

 

Mike Plunkett

President & Executive Director

Washington, legislative, lobbying matters

ACMA appointed Michael K. Plunkett as its President and Executive Director in January 2024, succeeding founder Hamilton Davison. Mr. Davison moved on to own and run a company. Mr. Plunkett brings years of executive leadership experience having been the President and CEO of the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) since 2017.  In the newly-formed dual role, he will continue his current role with PostCom and the two organizations will operate separately.

During his tenure, PostCom has continued to lead the mailing and shipping industry on policy and regulatory matters and to work with Government agency partners to advance issues of importance to members. Mr. Plunkett is also President of the Delivery Technology Advocacy Council, a nonprofit launched in 2020 to concentrate on delivery and logistics technologies.

Prior to PostCom, Mr. Plunkett accumulated more than 25 years Postal experience with the United States Postal Service in numerous executive roles in operations, marketing, product development and pricing.  As a leader within the Postal Service’s management team, Mr. Plunkett developed a well-earned reputation for innovation by leading efforts to develop pricing agreements for domestic services and in the development of the forever stamp and the priority mail flat rate box.

Mr. Plunkett has testified on pricing and policy issues before the Postal Regulatory Commission and Congressional subcommittees.  He has authored and presented papers on postal policies, economics, and operations for National and International conferences.

Mr. Plunkett holds Masters Degrees in Business from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a Sloan Fellow. He earned a Bachelor Degrees in Economics and Finance from the Pennsylvania State University.