The White House isn’t just dismissing technology companies’ concerns about tariffs on China, it’s picking up the pace. Both Reuters and the Wall Street Journal have learned that the Trump administration is likely to formally announce its latest tariffs on Chinese goods within the next few days (possibly as soon as September 17th). Imports for “internet technology products,” circuit boards and other electronics are still likely to become more expensive, although the tariff level is reportedly set at 10 percent, not the originally proposed 25 percent also used for earlier tariffs. The administration may have lowered the tariffs to reduce the chances that companies would instantly raise prices to make up for the higher costs.
As before, the tariffs are meant to pressure China into curbing trade policies deemed unfair, including attempts to acquire US technologies and subsidize tech categories like AI and robotics. There are hints of the two sides resuming talks that could mitigate or end the trade war, but Trump hasn’t been willing to wait for these talks before imposing new tariffs.
Trump has called on companies to produce more of their goods inside the US as a response to criticisms. In many cases, though, it’s not as simple as opening a new factory. Technology companies don’t just source products from China due to lower labor costs — they also use it for access to flexible, appropriately-skilled workers as well as the region’s many natural resources and component makers. A shift to US production might not come in time to avoid the long-term effects of tariffs.