Apple CEO Tim Cook warned Trump that China tariffs would boost its main rival Samsung, in a major reversal


Donald Trump Tim Cook

  • President Donald Trump met with Apple CEO Tim Cook on Friday.
  • Trump told reporters on Sunday that Cook had warned about tariffs hurting Apple and benefiting its main smartphone rival Samsung.
  • Apple will see tariffs slapped on the iPhone, its laptops, AirPods, and a host of other devices because they’re mostly manufactured in China. Samsung won’t need to pay equivalent tariffs.
  • This is a major reversal from Cook, who last July said he was “optimistic” that China and the US would resolve their trade dispute.
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President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he had spoken with Apple CEO Tim Cook about the impact of US tariffs on Chinese imports as well as competition from South Korean company Samsung.

Trump said Cook “made a good case” that tariffs could hurt Apple given that Samsung’s products would not be subject to those same tariffs.

Tariffs on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, including consumer electronics, are scheduled to go into effect in two stages on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15.

The levies will impact Apple’s range of laptops, the iPhone, Airpods, the Apple Watch, and the HomePod smart speaker. That could potentially lead to price rises, and make Apple’s devices considerably more expensive than those offered by its main competitor Samsung.

By contrast, the United States and South Korea struck a trade agreement last September.

“I thought he made a very compelling argument, so I’m thinking about it,” Trump said of Cook, speaking with reporters at a New Jersey airport.

It’s a reversal from Cook, who has said little publicly about the impact of China tariffs on Apple’s lineup of products. He told investors last July that he was optimistic that the US and China could resolve trade tensions.

“I can’t predict the future, but I am optimistic that the countries will get through this,” he said at the time. “We are hoping that calm heads prevail.”

US stock futures rose upon opening on Sunday after Trump’s comments. In addition to his comments on Apple, Trump said on Twitter earlier in the day that his administration was “doing very well with China.”

Apple was not immediately available for comment outside normal business hours.

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