Importers Paid $32 Billion in US Tariffs on Chinese Tech Imports, Report Shows

Importers of technology products from China paid more than $32 billion worth of tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump between mid-2018 and the end of 2021, a new trade group report showed on Tuesday as the Biden administration continues to deliberate over whether to remove some duties.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) said in the report that the tech industry has reduced its dependence on China in the wake of the tariffs, but this has been offset by increased imports from Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and other countries. 

Roughly half of the $32 billion in tariffs was paid on Chinese-produced computers and electronic products, CTA said. Total “Section 301” tariffs paid on Chinese goods through July 13 totaled $145.43 billion, according to Customs and Border Protection data. 

The report comes as the Biden administration is trying to determine whether to remove some of the tariffs as a way to provide American consumers relief from high inflation, which remained low during the first two years that the tariffs were imposed. 

Ed Brzytwa, CTA’s vice president of international trade, said in a statement that the tariffs were hurting U.S. businesses, not solving China trade challenges. 

“With rising prices across all sectors of our economy, removing tariffs would mitigate rampant and harmful inflation and lower costs for Americans,” he said. 

CTA’s review of import trends since the tariffs were first imposed in phases in mid-2018 shows that imports of Chinese tech goods hit by Section 301 tariffs fell by 39% over the next three and a half years, while those not affected grew by 35%. 

China’s share of U.S. imports of tech products hit by the tariffs roughly halved to 17% in 2021 from 32% in 2017, CTA said. 

The group said there was no such shift in tech products unaffected by tariffs, with China accounting for 84% of U.S. imports in these categories in both 2017 and 2021. 

But some imports of Chinese-produced consumer tech goods were higher in 2021 than 2017 despite the tariffs, suggesting that the motivation among some companies to “leave China” had abated. Among these were digital cameras, certain cooking appliances and vacuum cleaners, including robot vacuums

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