If you’re hoping to get new gadgets for Christmas, we have some good news: The Trump administration says it will delay a planned 10 percent tariff on some consumer electronics, including smartphones, laptop computers, videogame consoles, and computer monitors, as well as other items such as footwear, clothing, and toys, until December 15. That means retailers should be able to stock those items before the holiday season. But there’s bad news as well.
Many other electronic products will still face new tariffs on September 1, including televisions, watches, and digital cameras, as well as non-tech items ranging from livestock to swords. And you may still end up paying more for products like smartphones and laptops, because of tariffs on components such as power supplies and printed circuit boards. The United States Trade Representative didn’t explain the reasoning for delaying tariffs on some items.
The industry group Consumer Technology Association welcomed the delay, but said the uncertainty caused by real and threatened tariffs causes economic harm. “Recent wild, tariff-induced swings in the stock market concern every American with a 401(k), pension, or IRA, proving the folly of unwinnable trade wars,” CTA CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement. “Tariffs are taxes. The Chinese government doesn’t pay for them—Americans bear the burden.”
Still, Wall Street welcomed the news, and major stock indexes rose. Apple shares climbed more than 4 percent on relief that its iPhones will not be subject to tariffs.
The delays are the latest twist in the Trump administration’s increasingly complicated trade conflict with China. In May the administration imposed sanctions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei, citing national security concerns. The sanctions require US companies such as Google and chipmaker Broadcom to seek special permission to sell products to Huawei. President Trump has said the restrictions could be lifted if China and the US reach a broader deal on trade. The administration also suggested that companies could sell Huawei products that don’t threaten national security. But the administration has already backtracked on the idea of liberally granting licenses following the collapse of trade negotiations, Bloomberg reported last week.
Trump typically positions the tariffs as an incentive for US companies to manufacture products in the US. But that hasn’t worked out so far. Earlier this year the US trade deficit hit a record $891.3 billion. That could be in part because even as some firms move some production outside of China—such as Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn, which makes products for Apple and many other electronics companies—they’re moving that production to places like India, Taiwan, Mexico, and Vietnam.
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