On Friday, the US raised import taxes to 25 percent on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods, marking the latest escalation in a growing trade war that has raged on for more than a year. When the tariffs were initially announced, many saw them as a negotiating tactic, designed to put pressure on the ongoing trade talks between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. But with Trump now in Washington and cheerleading the new taxes on Twitter, it seems clear that the 25 percent tax will be around for a while.
China has already retaliated with additional tariffs on $60 billion worth of US imports to China, including chemicals and frozen produce, raising the real danger of further escalation from the US.
US hardware companies are deeply reliant on trans-Pacific trade, but, so far, tariffs have mostly avoided assembled computers and smartphones, focusing instead on unbundled components likely to have less effect on end consumers. But that doesn’t mean tech companies are entirely unaffected. In September, Apple sent a letter to the US Trade Representative laying out exactly how it would be affected by the proposed tariffs and pleading for changes before the final codes were implemented. Some high-profile categories on the list were ultimately exempted, including the code for AirPods and the Apple Watch.
But the codes involved in Apple’s “adapters, chargers, cables and cords” stayed on the list, and, starting last September, they have been taxed at a 10 percent rate when they entered the US from China. The same is true for iPhone cases and the iPad’s leather covers, both of which are also subject to the tariff, per Apple’s letter. On Friday, that jumped to 25 percent. (Apple declined to comment when reached by The Verge.) Read more