US tech firms make last-ditch effort to avoid Trump's China tariffs

New import levies will cause ‘broad, disproportionate economic harm to US interests, including our companies and US workers, our customers, US consumers, and broader US economic and strategic priorities,’ say companies 

Ben Chapman
Friday 07 September 2018 10:16 BST
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Dell, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Juniper Networks warn that the new tariffs will increase the cost of components that they buy from China
Dell, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Juniper Networks warn that the new tariffs will increase the cost of components that they buy from China (Getty)

Four big US tech firms have written a last-minute letter to the US Trade Representative (USTR), urging to be excluded from a proposed round of tariffs on $200bn (£154bn) of Chinese imports.

Dell, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Juniper Networks warn that the new tariffs will increase the cost of components that they buy from China and could result in job losses in the US.

“If USTR were to impose a 10-25 per cent additional duty on networking products and accessories, it would cause broad, disproportionate economic harm to US interests, including our companies and US workers, our customers, US consumers and broader US economic and strategic priorities,” the firms said in a letter to the USTR Robert Lighthizer on Thursday.

Increases in prices would also stifle innovation important to the US government, such as cloud computing and the rollout of 5G networks, according to the letter.

The four companies provide equipment to other tech firms, the government, schools and other institutions, meaning the impact of increased tariffs could be widely felt.

“Over time the reduced profits that the duties could cause could lead to hiring freezes, stagnant wages and even job losses, as well as harm to investors such as reduced dividends and erosion of shareholder value,” the companies wrote.

The last-ditch attempt to secure an exemption comes as the consultation period for the proposed tariffs come to an end, meaning the new measures could be in place as soon as Friday.

President Donald Trump further escalated his trade war with China in July by announcing he planned to impose tariffs of up to 25 per cent on $200bn of Chinese goods – around half of US imports from its largest trading partner.

The move comes after the Trump administration put 25 per cent tariffs on $34bn of Chinese imports in July and a further $16bn last month.

In response, Beijing implemented its own 25 per cent import taxes on $50bn worth of US goods.

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