President Donald Trump concedes that some Apple Inc. products may become more expensive if his administration imposes "massive" additional tariffs on Chinese-made goods, but he says the tech company can fix the problem by moving production to the U.S.
"Start building new plants now. Exciting!" Trump said Saturday in a tweet aimed at the Cupertino, California-based company.
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This week, Apple said that a proposed new round of $200 billion in additional tariffs on Chinese imports would raise prices on some of its products, including the Apple Watch and the Mac mini.
The company is highly exposed to a trade war between the U.S. and China. It makes many of its products for the U.S. market in China, and it also sells gadgets including the iPhone in China, making them a potential target for Chinese retaliation against the Trump tariffs.
Trump tweeted Saturday that "Apple prices may increase because of the massive Tariffs we may be imposing on China — but there is an easy solution where there would be ZERO tax, and indeed a tax incentive," if the company made its products in the U.S. instead of China.
Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has not announced plans to move manufacturing from China to the U.S.
In its letter this week to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Apple said that "because all tariffs ultimately show up as a tax on US consumers, they will increase the cost of Apple products that our customers have come to rely on in their daily lives."
The company said tariffs would hit "a wide range of Apple products," including computers, watches, adapters, chargers and tools used in its U.S. manufacturing, repair and data centers. Apple said the tariffs would raise the cost of its U.S. operations and put it at a disadvantage to foreign rivals.
The White House has accused China of stealing U.S. intellectual property and forcing American companies to share their technology with Chinese companies. The tariffs would pressure China to stop that behavior, the administration has said. Apple said "it is difficult to see" how tariffs would advance the government's goal.
The presidential tweet is the latest salvo in a dispute between the Trump administration and companies that fear tariffs will hurt their business.
The Trump administration has imposed tariffs of $50 billion on imports from China, mostly equipment and material used by manufacturers. CEO Tim Cook said in July that those measures had no effect on Apple. The company is concerned, however, about the Trump administration's proposal to add 25 percent duties on another $200 billion in Chinese goods, including a wider assortment of consumer-related items.