Industry groups representing some of the biggest names in tech on Thursday criticized President Trump’s broad trade action against China, including potential tariffs on information communications technology (ICT) goods.
According to a Bloomberg report, the president instructed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to levy tariffs on at least $50 billion in Chinese imports. Within 15 days, Lighthizer will come up with a proposed list of products that will face higher tariffs.
The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), a technology trade group with Equinix, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), IBM, McAfee and VMware among its members, is urging the president to negotiate with the Chinese to reach a settlement rather than imposing the tariffs.
“We appreciate that the Trump Administration has listened to industry’s requests for a comment period,” said Dean Garfield, ITI’s CEO. “While we look forward to providing our feedback on the options the administration has outlined, we remain concerned with the administration’s focus on tariffs. These measures could violate international obligations and – more importantly – would punish U.S. consumers, businesses and workers for China’s action.”
Trump signed a memorandum announcing the trade actions, invoking Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act, which formed the basis for the administration’s investigation.
Earlier this week, ITI led a coalition of nearly four dozen business associations in sending a letter to Trump, urging him to not include tariffs as a potential remedy from the investigation. In the letter, the groups outlined how tariffs harm U.S. companies and American workers across the economy, greatly limiting market opportunities in China for U.S. manufacturers, service providers, content creators and small businesses.
Also Thursday, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), whose membership includes Cisco, Crown Castle, Dell, Microsoft, Telecom Brokers and others in the channel, released a statement saying the proposed tariffs of “25 percent on information communications technology goods would make it more expensive to expand and upgrade American communication networks.”
“Companies, governments and individuals would find it harder to access an essential productivity tool,” said Cinnamon Rogers, TIA’s senior vice president of governmental affairs. “TIA supports policies that promote the growth of a competitive global marketplace in network goods and services. We consistently advocate against the use of tariffs on ICT products in all countries because we believe they distort fundamental principles of supply and demand. We also urge the administration to work closely with like-minded allies in seeking to counter China’s discriminatory trade policies.”