The U.S. introduced tariffs on another $110 billion of goods originating from China today. Consumer electronics are mostly unaffected by the expansion of these 15% tariffs, according to Bloomberg, with the notable exception of wireless audio devices and wearable products such as the Apple Watch.
President Donald Trump announced on August 23 that he would raise tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods imported from China in retaliation to the country's decision to roll out its own tariffs on approximately $75 billion worth of American goods. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said it would raise the tariffs expected to take effect on September 1 and December 15 from 10% to 15% in response.
U.S. companies have repeatedly asked the Trump administration to suspend tariff increases. While the tariffs are supposed to raise costs for China, the increased costs are typically passed on to American companies instead. That means companies looking to sell products in the U.S. have to choose between accepting reduced margins, shifting their production outside China or raising prices to help mitigate the increased costs of doing business.
That decision becomes increasingly difficult to make as the tariffs continue to increase and expand. JLab Audio CEO Win Cramer, for example, told Bloomberg that 90% of its products are subject to the 15% tariffs introduced today. Roughly 40% of its annual sales come in the fourth quarter during the holiday shopping season. The company reportedly delayed hiring because it fears the effect these tariffs will have in the coming months.
USTR said the tariff increase would also apply to goods currently affected by 25% tariffs--approximately $550 billion worth of products--on October 1. The U.S. and China will reportedly hold in-person trade meetings in September, however, so the changes scheduled for October 1 and December 15 might be delayed. (Although the CNN report that Trump lied about phone calls between the U.S. and China raises questions about those plans.)
More information about the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China can be found in our continually updated roundup on how these tariffs have affected the tech industry. So far the effects have been minor, at least for consumers, but that could change with the December 15 expansion. That round of tariffs will apply to phones, laptops, game consoles, monitors, and many other kinds of consumer electronics just before the winter holidays.