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US tech groups seek exclusion of networking products from looming China tariffs

Four U.S. technology companies have asked President Donald Trump to exclude networking equipment from a list of $200 billion in Chinese imports that could soon be subject to tariffs, the Financial Times reported.

Executives from Cisco Systems Inc., Dell Technologies Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. and Juniper Networks Inc. said in a joint letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that tariffs on networking products and accessories would raise prices for consumers and delay investments that could result in job losses and reduced dividends for shareholders.

"If [the] USTR were to impose a [10% to 25%] additional duty on networking products and accessories, it would cause broad, disproportionate economic harm to U.S. interests, including our companies and U.S. workers, our customers, U.S. consumers, and broader U.S. economic and strategic priorities," the letter reportedly said.

The list of products that could be subject to 25% tariffs includes servers and routers as well as motherboards and memory modules, the FT noted.

The National Retail Federation and more than 150 organizations representing retailers, manufacturers, farmers, technology companies, natural gas, oil and other industries, also urged the U.S. to suspend further tariff actions. In comments submitted to Lighthizer, the groups said the broad coverage of tariff categories will harm U.S. consumers, manufacturers, farmers and small and medium-sized companies, and result in significant supply chain disruptions.

The groups said U.S. businesses and consumers face a total of $62.5 billion in annual costs if the government imposes a 25% tariff on a total $250 billion of imports from China.

The requests came on the final day of the comment period called by the Trump administration to solicit views on the proposed new tariffs and amid rising concerns of escalating trade tensions between the world's two largest economies. The new batch of tariffs could be announced soon after the comment period ends.