US excludes some Chinese imports from tariffs, potentially driving motherboard and GPU prices down

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What just happened? US Trade Representative’s office reinstates expired waivers on some tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on Chinese imports. Among the items added to the exclusion list are Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs), an integral part of consumer hardware such as motherboards and graphics cards.

The USTR office has reinstated 352 expired product exclusions from the US “Section 301” tariffs on Chinese imports, Reuters reports, short of the 549 eligible exemptions it had considered. The products cover a range of $370 billion in Chinese imports that former President Trump hit with tariffs ranging from 7.5% to 25% during the US-China trade war.

Items include electric motors, certain auto parts and chemicals, backpacks, bicycles, vacuum cleaners, and PCBs. The exclusions are retroactive from October 12, 2021 through December 31, 2022.

Tom’s Hardware notes that there’s a chance motherboard and graphics card manufacturers will pass the savings on to consumers, although we’ll likely see the former more than the latter, as GPU prices are influenced by other factors, such as scalpers and miners.

Last December, Nvidia and Zotac filed a request with the USTR to reinstate the exemptions for certain electronic goods manufactured in China. Nvidia specifically mentioned the lack of GPU manufacturing outside of China. “The products are not manufactured in the US and in limited quantities in Taiwan. Attempts to create new capacity in countries that do not currently produce such products (such as the US and Vietnam) have been unsuccessful and have been severely hampered by the impact of COVID – 19,” Nvidia said.

HP also noted the importance of China as the main source of imports, while Apple, Google and Intel made comments urging the USTR to exempt certain electronic goods manufactured in China from tariffs.

While the reset of the waivers won’t affect graphics card prices, they’ve fallen lately. Germany has seen their lowest prices since early 2021, with one card in the country even falling below MSRP, while our research shows the average GPU selling point on eBay fell by a further 10% between February and March. But as Nvidia points out, people are still paying about $300 more for a new RTX card than what they paid for their current GPU.

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