On Saturday, Trump lashed out at the Cupertino, California-based company on Twitter. His tweets were in response to the company’s warning earlier this week that the Trump administration’s proposed $200 billion tariffs on Chinese goods would hurt its business.
Apple said in a letter to the United States trade representative on Wednesday that the tariffs would harm growth and competitiveness and cause the company to raise prices on US consumers for products such as the Apple Watch and AirPods, its wireless headphones. The letter was first flagged by Bloomberg.
The president responded over the weekend, saying that the iPhone maker can get around the tariffs if it were to just build more factories in the United States. “Make your plants in the United States instead of China,” he wrote on Twitter. “Start building new plants now. Exciting! #MAGA”
Trump has already placed tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods, prompting retaliationfrom China, and he’s threatened tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. In its letter to the USTR, Apple warned that the proposed tariff list “covers a wide range of Apple products and the products used in our US operations” and listed items that would be affected.
“Tariffs increase the cost of our US operations, divert our resources, and disadvantage Apple compared to foreign competitors,” Apple wrote, adding that tariffs “will ultimately reduce the economic benefit we generate for the United States.”
As the Washington Post’s Tony Romm notes, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been personally lobbying Trump on tax and trade for months, even dining with Trump and the first lady at the White House last month.
While Apple may be on the losing end of Trump’s trade policies, it is a major beneficiary of the tax bill he signed last year, which cut the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent and lowered the tax rate for Apple and others to bring back the billions of dollars in profits they had previously stashed overseas.
Apple has rewarded both its shareholders and the Republican Party’s PR machine: It announced a $100 billion stock buyback program in the spring and in January said it would make a $350 billion “contribution” to the US economy. (As the Verge pointed out at the time, it was only clear where about $75 billion would be directed.)