Trump Administration Levying $200 Billion in China Tariffs

The Telecommunications Industry Association says that the Trump Administration's finalized list of products subject to a new tariff will result in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage to the telecom equipment industry.

The good news is that consumer-connected devices--phones, tablets, etc.--were removed from the final list, says the Consumer Technology Association, but that left routers and circuit assemblies and networking equipment that tech groups say could slow the rollout of 5G and closing the digital divide.

Related: Trump Tariffs Threaten IoT Competitiveness

President Donald Trump said Monday (Sept. 17) that "following seven weeks of public notice, hearings, and extensive opportunities for comment, I directed the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to proceed with placing additional tariffs on roughly $200 billion of imports from China." He said they were a response to "unfair policies and practices relating to United States technology and intellectual property – such as forcing United States companies to transfer technology to Chinese counterparts."

The new tariffs take effect Sept. 24.

“The tariffs imposed by the Administration will undermine the American adoption of strategic technologies including 5G, exacting long-term economic costs and hurting U.S. strategic competitiveness," said TIA SVP Cinnamon Rogers. "The finalized tariffs target equipment essential for next-generation telecom technology that will enable network-based innovations like Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things. Taxing the network equipment used to deliver these services and devices will handicap America amid a global race for technology leadership.... Tariffs will also hurt consumers by making it more expensive to deploy broadband, thereby impeding efforts to narrow the digital divide and exacerbating inequities in internet access."

The Consumer Technology Association agreed, calling the tariffs bad policy as well as legally questionable, though praising the removal of consumer devices from the list, which it had strongly opposed.

"We appreciate the Trump Administration removing consumer connected devices, the largest tariff code CTA identified in our USTR (United States Trade Representative) comments," said CTA president Gary Shapiro. But he added: "Retaliatory tariffs, whether 10 percent or 25 percent, are bad policy. We are especially concerned about retaliatory tariffs on printed circuit assemblies, routers and networking equipment. They will stifle our global leadership in 5G, create an internet tax on businesses and cause uncertainty for companies."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.