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September 21, 2018

U.S.-China Trade War Heats Up with Semiconductor Industry Caught in the Middle

U.S. Government Imposes Tariffs on $200 Billion of Goods and China Retaliates on $60 Billion of Goods

Earlier this week, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion in imports from China, including more than 90 tariff lines central to the semiconductor industry.

The 10 percent tariff will take effect on September 24, 2018, and rise to 25 percent on January 1. These tariff lines will cost SEMI’s 400 U.S. members tens of millions of dollars annually in additional duties. However, counting the products included in the previous rounds of tariffs, the total estimated impact exceeds $700 million annually. China has already announced that it will respond with tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods. In his notice, President Trump said the U.S. will impose tariffs on $267 billion worth of goods if China retaliates. 

The U.S. government removed 279 total tariff lines, including three lines that impact our industry: silicon carbide, tungsten, and network hubs used in the manufacturing process.

As we’ve noted, intellectual property is critical to the semiconductor industry, and SEMI strongly supports efforts to better protect valuable IP. However, we believe that these tariffs will ultimately do nothing to address the concerns with China’s trade practices. This sledgehammer approach will introduce significant uncertainty, impose greater costs, and potentially lead to a trade war. This undue harm will ultimately undercut our companies’ ability to sell overseas, which will only stifle innovation and curb U.S. technological leadership.

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Product Exclusion Process – List 2

USTR formally published the details for the product exclusion process for products subject to the List 2 China 301 tariffs (the $16 billion tariff list). If your company’s products are subject to tariffs, you can request an exclusion.

In evaluating product exclusion requests, the USTR will consider whether a product is available from a source outside of China, whether the additional duties would cause severe economic harm to the requestor or other U.S. interests, and whether the product is strategically important or related to Chinese industrial programs (such as “Made in China 2025”).

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The request period ends on December 18, 2018, and approved exclusions will be effective for one year, applying retroactively to August 23, 2018. Because exclusions will be made on a product basis, a particular exclusion will apply to all imports of the product, regardless of whether the importer filed a request.

More information, including the process for submitting the product exclusion request and details what information should be included in your submission can be found here 

Please let me know if your company plans on filing an exclusion. SEMI has prepared a document that includes guidelines for your exclusion filing, an explainer on how to submit, and links to official government info. SEMI is glad to assist your companies file exclusion requests for  your products. 

SEMI will continue tracking ongoing trade developments. Any SEMI members with questions should contact Jay Chittooran, Public Policy Manager at SEMI, at