U.S. to restore Trump-era tariffs on Chinese-assembled graphics cards

PC makers take note: The Biden administration is preparing to reinstate tariffs on graphics cards and motherboards assembled in China.

Last year, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) delayed the reinstatement of Trump-era tariffs of 25% on affected Chinese goods. The goal is to gather industry feedback and consider revisions as trade groups lobby the White House to end the tariffs, citing costs.

But on Wednesday, the U.S. Trade Representative's Office issued a notice saying it had recommended that the White House “maintain tariffs on covered products.” “We will maintain the current tariffs on products affected by this action, including the two tariffs you asked about,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative's Office told PCMag on Thursday.

These tariffs use codes 8473.30.1180 and 8473.30.5100 and cover graphics cards, motherboards and desktop computer cases. Other components covered by previous Trump-era tariffs include trackpad units worth more than $100 and power supply units with an output of more than 500 watts.

tariff code

(Image source: Office of the United States Trade Representative)

The Consumer Technology Association had urged the White House to end the tariffs, but Ed Brzytwa, CTA vice president of international affairs, told PCMag, “They're not taking anything away. They're just increasing the tariffs.”

So far, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has not issued a formal federal notification of the continuation of Trump-era tariffs, nor has it revealed a date for their resumption. But the White House has announced it is preparing to increase tariffs on some Chinese-made goods, including semiconductors, lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries and electric vehicles, in some cases as high as 100%.

Buzytva added that the United States is signaling that it will continue to adopt protectionist trade policies against China, but at the cost of higher consumer prices. “There seems to be a competition between Republicans and Democrats over who can take a tougher approach to China and who can take a more protectionist approach,” he said.

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The tariffs are intended to punish China for its unfair trade policies and alleged theft of intellectual property. But in late 2021, several technology companies, including Nvidia, HP and Zotac, urged the United States to exclude products from Trump-era tariffs, citing a lack of electronics manufacturing outside China.

“Efforts to create new capacity in countries that do not currently produce such products, such as the United States and Vietnam, have been unsuccessful and have been severely hampered by the impact of COVID-19,” Nvidia said at the time.

Meanwhile, Zotac told the U.S. Trade Representative's Office: “China remains the industry's main manufacturing base for video graphics cards and personal computers. The main reason is that the majority of the upstream supply chain is still located in China.”

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