Trump Tech Tariffs Loom

The Trump Administration moved a step closer to upping its tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% while computer companies urged it to delay that move.

President Donald Trump said Sunday (May 5) that he would be raising the tariff on that $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from as of Friday and the tariff on another $325 billion of goods "shortly." Consumer tech companies warn those tariffs are a tax that hurts workers, savers and retirees.

Now the U.S. Trade Representative has published the 10% to 25% "modification" in the Federal Register. There will be a process for appeals to exclude some covered products.

The good news is that consumer-connected devices--phones, tablets, etc.--were removed from the final list of the $200 billion worth of products. The bad news is it still included routers, circuit assemblies and networking equipment the escalation of prices for which those tech groups say could slow the rollout of 5G and closing the digital divide.

That comes even as the U.S. is expressing increasing concerns about Chinese tech in U.S. networks.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association is no fan of China's policies, but it doesn't appear to think the tariff is the right way to go.

“This escalation will only lead to further retaliation and costs for US citizens and businesses," said CCIA president Ed Black. "We would urge USTR to instead delay tariffs while negotiators continue to seek real solutions to the legitimate concerns about market access for U.S. technology firms that the administration wants addressed. Setting the right foundation for trade with China is strategically important, but additional tariffs that hurt U.S. consumers are not the solution.” 

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.