US Senators Seek De Minimis Parity For US Ecommerce Businesses

July 17, 2017

On July 14, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) along with 26 other Senators came together to send a bipartisan letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer calling on the Administration to seek de minimis parity for US e-commerce businesses. “E-commerce has been a tremendous boon to American small businesses, especially when it comes to exporting,” the letter said. The letter went on to highlight that despite the positive benefits of e-commerce exporting, outdated de minimis rules prevent small businesses from realizing the full benefits of global e-commerce.

“One of the amazing things about the internet is that – for the first time in history – small businesses have access to customers around the globe,” said Senator Portman, a former US Trade Representative and a member of the Senate Finance Committee. “This letter calls attention to one of the key impediments to trade that make it harder for small businesses to compete. I hope that the USTR makes addressing the barrier posed by these thresholds a priority in NAFTA and future trade negotiations.”

Every country sets its own de minimis threshold, which is the threshold below which imports enter a buyer’s country with little to no paperwork and duty- and tax-free. This issue is visible in North America where American and foreign sellers must confront low de minimis thresholds when selling to buyers in Canada and Mexico. eBay supports increased de minimis thresholds globally to remove frictions from the global marketplace and ensure small businesses can provide high-quality buyer experiences, regardless of where their buyer is located.

“Exporting and e-commerce represent a tremendous opportunity for small businesses to sell to the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live abroad,” said Shaheen, who is ranking member on the Senate Small Business Committee. “That is why we need to make cutting red tape and leveling the playing field for American small businesses a top priority in our trade negotiations.

eBay will continue to advocate for small e-commerce businesses by urging governments across the globe to come together and support small business trade by increasing customs de minimis thresholds to commercially meaningful levels.