For months, tech companies have been worried about looming tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports, raising prices on crucial tech products by as much as 25 percent. Today, the industry finally got some good news: according to a Bloomberg report, the final tariff list won’t include devices that receive and transmit voice data, a category that includes the Apple Watch, Fitbits, Sonos Speakers, and a host of other fitness trackers and home assistants.
The White House recently backed down on the rate at which the imports would be taxed. Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that listed goods would likely be taxed at only 10 percent. As recently as August, President Trump had considered setting the rate at 25 percent.
Customs documents describe the category in vague terms, listing the devices as “machines for the reception, conversion and transmission or regeneration of voice, images or other data.” But that vague category has come to encompass a wide range of personal tech, including fitness trackers and personal voice assistants. The Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod, BeatsWL, AirPort, and Time Capsule all fall under the code, according to a letter submitted by Apple to the US Trade Representative.
Other categories of Apple products will still be affected by the tariff, including adapters, the Mac mini, and any circuit boards or internal components shipped individually to the United States.
Apple had publicly objected to the listed tariffs as a burden on American consumers and the company itself. “It is difficult to see how tariffs that hurt U.S. companies and U.S. consumers will advance the Government’s objectives with respect to China’s technology policies,” Apple wrote in the same letter.
The reduced tariffs are still likely to cause significant chaos within the tech industry, which has grown increasingly reliant on Chinese manufacturing in recent years. The new tariffs do not include major items like phones or computers, but they are still expected to heavily disrupt manufacturing channels.
“Overall, I’m not sure how these tariffs do much other than hurt American technology manufacturing and make things harder for the smaller startups and hobbyist hackers,” Pebble co-founder Rahul Bhagat told The Verge earlier this year.