The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced Friday that it lifted tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods imported from China. Impacted products included graphics cards, motherboards and PC cases, as well as some gaming peripherals. Now those goods will be exempt from the increased tariffs levied as part of the trade war between the U.S. and China--at least until the temporary exemption comes to an end in August 2020.
U.S. tariffs on Chinese-manufactured goods have expended to cover hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods over the last few months. The most recent expansion affected $110 billion worth of products, including the Apple Watch and wireless audio devices, on September 1. A tariff increase from 25% to 20% was also supposed to affect $250 billion worth of goods starting October 1, but the Trump administration delayed the bump to October 15.
Now much of the PC industry--as well as the gaming console market--has been granted a brief reprieve. USTR said in a public docket published to the Federal Register on September 20 that many electronics devices will be excluded from additional tariffs until August 7, 2020. The executive office also published a one-paragraph statement about deputy-level trade discussions between the U.S. and China that took place on September 19 and 20.
"These discussions were productive," USTR said in the statement, "and the United States looks forward to welcoming a delegation from China for principal-level meetings in October." The delayed tariffs along with the exemptions granted on Friday were likely meant to help with those discussions. (President Donald Trump had previously framed the delay of the October 1 tariffs as a "gesture of good will [sic]" to China on its 70th anniversary.)
This delay is the latest way in which the U.S. and China trade war has been unpredictable for U.S. tech companies. Tariffs expand, increase and are then delayed based on how talks between the countries have gone. Huawei goes from persona non grata to a fine company on a whim. Unless the October talks go well, there's no resolution to this conflict in sight. Just more delays of the seemingly inevitable as the countries go head to head.