By Greg Papandrew, DirectPCB co-founder
The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has extended the Section 301 tariff exemption on Chinese manufactured imports through year’s end.
For PCBs, the exemption pertains, as it did before, only to 2 and 4-layer rigid boards made of epoxy glass. The tariff will continue to apply to single-sided and higher layer counts, flex, and other substrates such as aluminum or ceramic.
Both domestic and offshore manufacturers are feeling the adverse effects of today’s supply chain challenges.
Increases in raw materials and freight have added to overall board pricing, regardless of country of origin. Despite the tariffs, many PCB buyers continue to rely on China for their boards—because they must.
While many American companies manufacture 2 and 4-layer rigid PCBs, it’s simply not enough to meet demand. And even if the tariff exemption goes away, buyers will continue to buy these boards from China because of pricing, quality, and capacity concerns.
Essentially, the tariffs are a punitive measure designed to help protect and promote the domestic PCB industry. But the tariffs do not address the central issue. So they will not have the intended effect, in my opinion.