LIVE FROM CES 2019, LAS VEGAS: Gary Shapiro (pictured), head of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), hit out at an ongoing trade dispute between the US and China which has threatened technology companies with rising tariffs.

Shapiro didn’t mince words: “Tariffs are harming our economy and tariffs are nothing more than taxes,” he said, raising a round of applause in the process.

The comment came in the context of a trade battle between the US and China, which has resulted in escalating tariffs that have impacted many US technology companies which do business in, or rely on components from, China.

Last week, US President Donald Trump claimed “China is paying us tremendous tariffs,” though levies are actually paid by the companies importing affected goods.

Shapiro had more to say about policy in other areas as well, urging “a smart government approach to emerging technology” rather than one that is “restrictive and immediately confining”.

He acknowledged calls for increased privacy and security at a time of rising data-dependent technologies including artificial intelligence. However, he said such issues must be discussed with the benefits they can provide in mind.

“Innovation has to find its own path and grow like a tree and if we cut off different limbs we will suffer as humans and our economies will suffer.”