Apple would like to avoid paying additional tariffs if the Trump administration escalates its trade war with China. President Donald Trump has thrown cold water on Apple’s hopes.
Trump tweeted Friday that he will refuse to exempt the company from paying tariffs on parts for the new Mac Pro, which Apple will reportedly assemble in China. Final assembly of the current version of the Mac Pro takes place in Texas.
The White House has proposed a possible 25% tariff on $300 billion in Chinese goods not already subject to tariffs. The tariff would apply to a wide range of products, including laptops, video game consoles, battery cases and other products. Tech companies say the tariff would increase costs for consumers or harm their abilities to make a profit.
After meeting with Chinese officials at the G20 last month, the Trump administration agreed to indefinitely postpone plans for those additional tariffs.
But tech companies are concerned that the trade truce could fall apart, and the Trump administration will use more tariffs as leverage over China. That’s why more than half a dozen companies have asked the Trump administration to exempt the products they produce.
In public filings commenting on the Trump administration’s tariff escalation proposal, Apple, Dell Technologies (DELL), HP, Intel (INTC), Microsoft (MSFT), Sony (SNE) and Nintendo (NTDOY) asked that their products be excluded from the list of goods the tariff would apply to. The Consumer Technology Association submitted a letter asking the government to develop a process for companies to request that their goods be excluded from the tariff; the trade group argued that increasing tariffs is the wrong way to improve the US-China trade relationship.
In Apple’s tariff exemption requests for its China-made hardware, it does not explicitly list the Mac Pro. But it does include parts that would probably be included in the new computer.
“Final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process,” Apple said in a statement at the time. “Like all of our products, the new Mac Pro is designed and engineered in California and includes components from several countries including the United States.”
When asked for comment on Trump’s tweet, an Apple spokesperson referred CNN Business to a prior comment stating that the company has spent $60 billion partnering with 9,000 American suppliers, which the company says supported hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Apple once pledged to invest $100 million in its Austin, Texas, plant, where previous versions of the Mac Pro were assembled. It’s not clear how that plant would be impacted by moving assembly to China or if Mac Pro assembly is already taking place abroad.
Later on Friday, Trump said he wants Apple to “build their plants in the United States, not in China.” He reiterated his tariff threat but also pledged to “work it out” with Apple, saying he respected CEO Tim Cook. “A man I have a lot of liking for and respect is Tim Cook. We’ll work it out.”
– CNN’s Nikki Carvajal contributed to this report.