- President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he’s “looking into” whether Apple should be exempt from tariffs on Chinese imports.
- The comments came during Trump’s visit to Apple’s manufacturing plant in Texas, where it assembles the Mac Pro.
- Trump cited Samsung, Apple’s biggest competitor in the smartphone industry, as a reason behind his decision to look into Apple’s situation.
- Samsung is headquartered in South Korea, which has a trade deal with the United States.
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President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he’s “looking” into whether Apple should be exempt from tariffs on Chinese imports that would impact products like the Apple Watch and iPhone, among others.
The comments came during Trump’s visit to Apple’s factory in Austin, Texas, where the tech giant is assembling the Mac Pro computer it plans to ship next month.
“We’re looking at that,” Trump said when asked if he thinks Apple should be exempt from tariffs on Chinese imports, as shown in footage streamed by Fox News. Much of Apple’s supply chain, including its primary iPhone assembly plant, is based in China.
Part of the reason Trump is looking into whether Apple should be excluded from tariffs is to level the playing field with Samsung, Apple’s biggest competitor and the largest smartphone maker in the world. Samsung is headquartered in South Korea, which has a trade deal with the United States.
It’s a point that Trump and Cook have discussed in the past, and the president reiterated it again on Wednesday.
“The problem we have is you have Samsung, it’s a great company, but it’s a competitor of Apple,” Trump said. “And it’s not fair because we have a trade deal, we made a great trade deal with South Korea. But we have to treat Apple in a somewhat similar basis as we treat Samsung.”
Cook said during Apple’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings call that the company is already paying tariffs that went into effect in September and earlier. But he also said that his view is “very positive” regarding China.
Apple also recently filed requests for exclusions on tariffs that added an additional 15% duty on products including the Apple Watch, iMac, and components for the iPhone, Bloomberg reported earlier this month. An additional round of tariffs are expected to go into effect on December 15.
“The nice part is he doesn’t have to worry about tariffs,” Trump said in reference to the Mac Pro. “Because when you build in the United States, you don’t have to worry about tariffs.”
During the visit, Trump also praised Cook and Apple’s efforts to expand in Austin. The iPhone maker also announced on Wednesday that it had started construction on a new $1 billion campus in Austin that it expects to open in 2022.
“I said someday we’re [going to] see Apple building plants in our country, not in China,” Trump said. “And that’s what’s happening, it’s all happening.”