TIA assails Trump’s China tariffs as a threat to 5G

Concerns are growing over the Trump administration’s tariffs and how those tariffs could impact 5G deployment. The Telecommunications Industry Association expressed serious concern with the FCC this week over tariffs levied against imports from China, and it is encouraging the agency to share its position with the White House.

The telecom lobbying group believes tariffs on information and communications technology (ICT) imports from China would have an adverse effect on 5G deployment efforts in the U.S. and is encouraging political leaders to seek ways to avoid, eliminate or mitigate unnecessary burdens it would impose on the telecom industry.

“Uncertainty about the timing or applicability of existing or potential tariffs makes it difficult for ICT companies or their customers to properly plan their deployments,” Cinnamon Rogers, senior vice president of government affairs at TIA, wrote in a filing made with the FCC (PDF). “We therefore urge the commission to advise the administration regarding the specific need for U.S. leadership in 5G.”

In the FCC filing, TIA highlighted its primary reasons for opposing tariffs on Chinese technology components. The group contends the duties could “undermine the American adoption of strategic technologies” including 5G services, by “exacting longer-term economic costs and hurting U.S. strategic competitiveness.” Hiking the cost of components required for 5G infrastructure could also slow the adoption of 5G and delay the advancement of artificial intelligence and IoT, according to the group.

Additionally, TIA argues that “tariffs would ultimately hurt consumers, making it more expensive to access broadband internet and impede efforts to narrow the digital divide in the U.S.”

These double-digit tariffs would disrupt sales growth and add serious uncertainty about the future viability of global supply chains for decades, according to TIA. “It is important to recognize that for many of the products that appear on the tariff list, there are few if any U.S.-manufactured alternatives.”

TIA isn’t the only group worried about President Donald Trump’s moves to levy tariffs on numerous components from China. Earlier this month, Nokia filed a similar warning with the FCC and cautioned that these duties could raise the cost of 5G infrastructure in the U.S. by hundreds of millions of dollars. Wireless tower companies in the U.S. have also voiced concern about the burdens they’re facing due to tariffs on steel imports.