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U.S. Delays Tariffs on Smart Phones, Game Consoles, Set-top Boxes

Janko Roettgers

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Device makers like Apple, Sony and Roku  got some significant reprieve from the Trump administration Tuesday: The U.S. Trade Representative announced that it would delay tariffs on a wide range of consumer electronics products imported from China until December 15.

Certain other products will be permanently exempt from the new round of tariffs due to security concerns. But even a 3 month-month reprieve is huge for consumer electronics makers, as it will allow them to avoid these extra charges during the crucial holiday season.

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President Trump originally announced earlier this month that his administration would slap tariffs of 10% on $300 billion worth of imports from China, with an option to raise those tariffs to 25% at a later time if the two countries couldn’t find a resolution to their trade dispute.

That announcement caused stock markets to crater, significantly impacting the share prices of companies like Apple as well as retailers like Best Buy. On Tuesday, investors flocked back to tech stocks, sending Apple’s share price up more than 4%, while Best Buy’s share price even gained more than 5%. Google, Roku and other consumer electronics companies all gained as well.

The list of products that won’t be tariffed until December 15 includes a wide range of items, ranging from smart phones to bamboo toothpicks. Also included are headphones, TV set-top boxes, game consoles, record players and more. However, smart speakers, TVs and some other media devices don’t seem to be included, which means that they’ll likely still be included in the September round of tariffs.

During recent earnings calls, consumer electronics executives seemed largely resigned to the fact that their products will be affected by the latest round of tariffs. For instance, Sonos CFO Brittany Bagley said that the company was already including the impact of tariffs on the company’s full-year guidance. “We are focusing on managing that impact,” she said. “We have been moving towards diversifying our supply chain outside of China.”

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