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Investors should be wary of claims that China will foot the bill for higher tariffs, CNBC's Jim Cramer said. Rather, those costs will fall on American consumer, and investors should adjust their portfolios accordingly.
"As long as President [Donald] Trump believes that the Chinese are the ones who pay the price, he's going to keep taking a hard-line approach to these negotiations, and that means your portfolio should have as little exposure to China as possible," the "Mad Money" host said.
Portfolio managers have found the market to be a tough place to shop for stocks as Wall Street sorts out the safe names and reassess earnings forecasts for companies affected by the U.S.-China trade war, Cramer said. He also warned that current uncertainty will be the "new normal" until the world's two largest economies come to some sort of agreement.
"Unfortunately, we have no idea when that might happen. People in this country are just starting to realize that President Trump has had it with the Chinese," Cramer said. "He's no desire to continue negotiating, even if they want to come to the table."
Trump's move to blacklist China's Huawei has placed pressure on the American semiconductors who supply components to the telecommunications giant.
Since the Trump administration's decision last Wednesday to impede business with Huawei, shares of Qualcomm have dropped nearly 12%, Micron Technology fell more than 10% and Analog Devices fell more than 10%. The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF, a broad tracking of chipmakers, is down nearly 8% in that same time frame.
"That is an astonishing amount of pain to inflict on U.S. companies in order to make a statement that we're not going to let Huawei get ahead of us in the race for 5G. Some of these chipmakers get 5 to 10, well, even 15% of their sales from Huawei," Cramer said. "This is a big deal to shut them down from this account."
Google-parent Alphabet on Sunday cut its support for Android hardware and software in Huawei phones.The move also hurt shares of Alphabet, which fell more than 2% during Monday's session.
The stock market expects China's retaliation to be aimed at Apple, which employs more than 2 million people in the country, Cramer said. Shares of Apple plunged more than 3% Monday, and the host said he can't blame investors for being worried.
Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Alphabet and Apple.