Trump suggests 10% tariffs may be slapped on iPhones, laptops imported from China

Apple is already facing reports of suppliers cutting forecasts, signaling the new iPhone models are not selling as well as anticipated.
Apple is already facing reports of suppliers cutting forecasts, signaling the new iPhone models are not selling as well as anticipated.PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) - Apple Inc, which has lost a fifth of its value in a tech market rout since October, is poised for another setback after US President Donald Trump suggested that 10 per cent tariffs could be placed on mobile phones, like the iPhone, and laptops made in China.

The company already is facing reports of suppliers cutting forecasts, signaling the new iPhone models introduced in September aren't selling as well as anticipated. Trump's comments to the Wall Street Journal that he may include Apple's signature product in another round of tariffs on Chinese imports are another blow.

"Maybe. Maybe. Depends on what the rate is," the president said, referring to mobile phones and laptops. "I mean, I can make it 10 per cent, and people could stand that very easily." Apple stock fell about 1.6 per cent in extended trading Monday following the comments.

The US is due to raise import duties on about US$200 billion worth of goods from China to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on Jan 1. The vast majority of iPhones and other Apple products are built in China and then exported globally. Apple couldn't be reached for comment.

So far, Apple's most lucrative devices, like the iPhone and iPad, have been left out of US tariffs. Earlier this year, Apple said products like the Apple Watch and AirPods would be affected before the US said it wouldn't impose taxes on such items. Still, the company warned in September, that other items, like the Mac mini, Apple Pencil stylus, and some cables and cases, could be harmed.

The company has made a small per centage of older iPhone models in Brazil and India in recent years, in part to avoid local taxes on imported goods. Trump on several occasions has suggested that Apple should bring iPhone manufacturing to the US

In his early years running Apple, chief executive officer Tim Cook would respond to questions about increasing manufacturing in the US by saying the skill sets in China are more conducive to producing the company's products.

 

However, in recent months, Cook has modified that view, saying in an interview this year that "it's not true that the iPhone is not made in the United States." Some components, like the smartphone's glass cover, are manufactured in the US and shipped for assembly in China.

In Trump's almost two years in office, Cook has met with him multiple times at large meetings with other technology executives and privately at the White House.