U.S. government delays reinstating Chinese tariffs that would make graphics cards and other components more expensive

AMD Radeon Graphics Cards group photo
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The reinstatement of tariffs by the U.S. on Chinese goods has yet again been postponed, averting the possibility of higher prices on computer parts such as graphics cards (via PCMag). The tariffs were originally slated to return by the end of 2023, but a last-minute extension was made that pushed the date to May 31.

There are 437 products impacted by the tariffs, including the components needed to make computer parts such as printed circuit boards (PCBs), as well as computer parts themselves: graphics cards, motherboards, and SSDs. These products would have gotten more expensive in 2024 if the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) didn't announce on Dec. 26 that the tariffs wouldn't return until May 31.

The tariffs in question originated in 2018 during the Trump administration, which imposed a 25% tariff on billions of dollars worth of Chinese products. As the tariffs were controversial both domestically and internationally, President Trump temporarily suspended them in Sept. 2019 (through Jan. 2021), which saw price increases for graphics cards. The tariffs were yet again suspended in March 2022 by the Biden administration, which has continuously postponed the tariffs' reinstatement.

Although many are pleased that the reinstatement of tariffs has been pushed back once more, the USTR was criticized by Americans for Free Trade on how little notice was given. With the postponement being announced just five days before the tariff was slated to reactivate, businesses reportedly didn't have enough time to adjust plans. Americans for Free Trade has strongly urged the U.S. government to permanently scrap the tariffs, claiming they have "failed" and damaged the economy.

Regardless of the success or failure of these tariffs, it's clear that their return would mean increased prices on PC components. This would be particularly painful for graphics cards and SSDs, as the former are already selling for record prices and the latter are set to become more expensive as supply dwindles. Of course, the tariffs could be delayed yet again this year, but the tariffs' fate in 2025 isn't so clear. President Biden is up for reelection and his opponent seems to be former President Trump, who may have a different policy in mind for these tariffs.

Matthew Connatser

Matthew Connatser is a freelancing writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes articles about CPUs, GPUs, SSDs, and computers in general.

  • bit_user
    If the goal is to push manufacturing of these components outside of mainland China, then the plan should have two elements:
    Enough advanced warning that the majority of manufacturing operations can actually be moved.
    A slow phase-in approach, to minimize disruption and avoid impacting producers & consumers too much, who haven't managed to transition their supply chain.
    Without these two elements, enacting the plan is likely to meet continued resistance and result in yet more kicking it down the road.
  • thestryker
    bit_user said:
    A slow phase-in approach, to minimize disruption and avoid impacting producers & consumers too much, who haven't managed to transition their supply chain.
    This part specifically has been a problem of late with all of these types of restrictions. Businesses wouldn't be happy about increased costs, but if they're given a reasonable timeframe with hard dates it would at least happen instead of this continual kicking the can.