China's August Trade Surplus With US Hits Record $31 Billion

The Trump administration has already slapped duties on US$50 billion of Chinese exports since July, which spurred immediate in-kind retaliation from Beijing. "Exciting!" President Trump said, advising the tech giant over Twitter on Saturday as his motorcade drove from the White House to his Virginia golf club.

The new duties will start to hit consumer products directly, including furniture, lighting products, tires, bicycles and vehicle seats for babies. But 2018 Chinese imports through July were up almost 9 per cent over the same period of 2017, according to US Census Bureau data.

AirPods headphones, some of Apple's Beats headphones and its new HomePod smart speaker also face levies as part of the proposed tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, according to the letter submitted on Wednesday.

Cellphones, the biggest United States import from China, have so far been spared but would be engulfed if Trump activates the $267 billion tariff list.

That said, Apple didn't give an estimate of how much the proposed tariffs would contribute to the increased costs of its products.

The tariffs are top of mind for Apple chief executive Tim Cook, who has personally lobbied Trump for months on issues of taxes and trade, even dining with the president and first lady Melania Trump at the White House in August.

As for tariffs, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNBC that the USA is still talking to China to resolve some issues. It has also threatened to retaliate against any potential new tariffs.

At the same time, Apple is already using components sourced from USA manufacturers in some of its products.

Companies such as Cisco and Hewlett-Packard say tariffs on Chinese networking equipment will ultimately make it more expensive for American consumers to access the Internet. The company makes a large percentage of its products in China.

The U.S.'s ability to continue to dominate telecommunications technology, including the upcoming fifth-generation phone networks, will be hampered by the levy on imports from China.

They say a full-blown trade war by 2021 could shrink America's annual economic output by an average of one-third of a percentage point and China's by two-tenths of a percentage point from 2019 through 2021. Among the equipment hit were a number of components and devices used by U.S. tech firms, including chips and networking gear produced in Chinese factories.

Guajardo said Thursday it would be "very strange" to sign a new NAFTA "when this trade war is pending".

  • Joey Payne