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February 25, 2019

SEMI Supports Delay of China Tariffs, Urges Firm Commitments in Trade Negotiations

Yesterday, President Trump extended the deadline for List 3, which would have raised U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods from China. SEMI welcomes the deadline extension.

Over the past three months, the United States and China have engaged in bilateral discussions to address structural issues like intellectual property protection and requirements for the use of joint ventures as well as trade balance concerns. President Trump announced that these talks have yielded significant and substantial progress in all areas. That said, it’s been reported that discussions on structural issues, such as forced technology transfer, have seen limited progress.

Certainly, questions remain on the specifics of liberalization, the structure of the agreement and, most notably, enforcement. Any new commitment will be toothless without a firm and binding enforcement mechanism. While the date of the new deadline hasn’t been clarified, we believe that the tariffs won’t be increased before Presidents Trump and Xi meet, which could happen in late March at Mar-a-Lago.

List 3 covers a range of items, including a number of consumer goods, but also directly impacts items critical to the semiconductor manufacturing process, including materials and machines. SEMI estimates that all U.S. and Chinese retaliatory tariffs – which hit machines and tools central to the semiconductor industry, including equipment used to manufacture wafers, boules, and chips as well as test, inspection and sensing equipment – will cost members more than $700 million in annual duties.

TariffsWhile SEMI strongly supports stronger protections for valuable intellectual property (IP), tariffs will not help address Chinese trade practices and will ultimately have significant and unintended consequences. SEMI asserts that these tariffs will harm companies in the semiconductor supply chain by increasing business costs, introducing uncertainty, and stifling innovation. The tariffs seem to target U.S. firms for simply operating in China.

Given that chips, tools, and materials are extremely complex, precise, and difficult to manufacture, it is not reasonable to believe that any component can easily be replaced with a part from another source. Further, this U.S. government approach does not take into account that many items subject to these tariffs are not available, at sufficient quality and cost, from domestic sources, or even non-Chinese sources. We stand steadfast in our belief that this trade action will raise prices, put thousands of high-paying and high skill jobs at risk, and curb growth.

SEMI will continue monitoring new developments in this area. Any SEMI members with questions should contact Jay Chittooran, Global Public Policy Manager at SEMI, at