In context: In addition to the global chip crisis, logistical issues caused by the pandemic, and the rising value of crypto, another factor that has seen the price of graphics cards rise to obscene heights are Trump-era tariffs placed on Chinese-made goods. To address the latter problem, Nvidia and Zotac are urging the Biden administration to make cards exempt from this extra cost.
PCMag reports that the companies made the request to the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office, which is considering reinstating exemptions on some items covered by the tariffs. Nvidia specifically cited the lack of GPU manufacturing outside of China, meaning the cards are subject to a 25% import tariff.
“The products are not manufactured in the US and in only limited amounts in Taiwan. Efforts to create new capacity in countries that presently do not manufacture such products (such as the US and Vietnam) were unsuccessful and were severely hampered by the fallout from COVID-19,” Nvidia said.
Nvidia continued to emphasize the pandemic’s effect on the GPU industry. "The ability to move the supply chain and/or increase volume in other countries was negatively impacted by COVID-19 in terms of the severe constraints in cargo/air freight capacity, the ability to operate facilities in people-intensive manufacturing, and the ability to find and hire qualified employees trained in such manufacturing," it added.
Zotac told the agency that although it has been working with a contract manufacturer in Taiwan to build its products, it still relies on China to turn raw materials into components, noting that it cannot find alternative sources.
HP is another company that noted China’s importance as the primary source of imports. “The products HP sources are not currently produced elsewhere at sufficient capacity, quality, and compatibility needed,” it told the USTR.
Other tech giants, including Apple, Google, and Intel, have also filed comments urging the USTR to make certain Chinse-manufactured electronic goods exempt from tariffs.
The decision on whether to make an item exempt will depend on whether the product remains available exclusively in China, and “whether or not reinstating the exclusion will impact or result in severe economic harm to the commenter or other US interests, including the impact on small businesses, employment, manufacturing output, and critical supply chains in the United States," the USTR said.
Even if the tariffs are lifted, we don’t know when, or if, it will be reflected in the cards' retail prices. But it’s certainly something we could use right now, especially as the Radeon RX 6000 line is set to become even more expensive.