Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 10 December 2019

Trump says Apple’s Cook made a very compelling case that tariffs give edge to Samsung

Most Apple products are assembled in China, leaving it vulnerable in continuing trade war

In this file photo taken on March 6, 2019 President Donald Trump speaks alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook (L). Mr Trump said that Apple would be spending 'vast sums' of money in the US in a tweet ahead of a dinner meeting with Mr Cook last week. AFP
In this file photo taken on March 6, 2019 President Donald Trump speaks alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook (L). Mr Trump said that Apple would be spending 'vast sums' of money in the US in a tweet ahead of a dinner meeting with Mr Cook last week. AFP

President Donald Trump said Apple chief executive Tim Cook "made a very compelling argument" that tit-for-tat tariffs between the US and China are giving South Korean rival Samsung a big competitive edge.

Mr Cook and Mr Trump had dinner on Friday night, while the president was at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Mr Trump described the conversation to reporters as he prepared to travel back to Washington.

“I had a very good meeting with Tim Cook,” Mr Trump said. “I have a lot of respect for Tim Cook, and Tim was talking to me about tariffs. And one of the things, and he made a good case, is that Samsung is their No 1 competitor, and Samsung is not paying tariffs because they’re based in South Korea.”

The majority of Apple products are assembled in China, leaving it subject to an additional 10 per cent import tax levied by the US later this year. For the Apple Watch and Airpods, this will go into effect on September 1. Mr Trump, to not impede on the holiday shopping season, delayed tariffs on some goods until December 15, including the iPhone, iPad and MacBook laptop.

Samsung, by contrast, is less dependent on China since much of its manufacturing happens in South Korea and Vietnam.

“It’s tough for Apple to pay tariffs if it’s competing with a very good company that’s not,” Mr Trump said.

Apple needs to build the cost of tariffs into the cost of goods, while Samsung currently does not, putting Apple at a competitive disadvantage. Samsung is launching its latest device, the Note 10, later this month, while Apple is planning upgrades to the Apple Watch, iPhone and its computers for later this year.

Updated: August 20, 2019 03:19 AM

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