Apple will still be manufacturing Mac Pro computers at its facility in Austin, Texas after winning exemptions from federal tariffs imposed in the course of Donald Trump’s ongoing trade war with China, CNBC reported on Monday.
The tech giant said that it had won exemptions allowing it to import some Chinese parts necessary to assemble its new line of $6,000 Mac Pros without paying the heightened tariffs, which are slated to affect some $550 billion in Chinese imports to the U.S. by mid-December. If the trade war isn’t resolved by that date, the tariffs are expected to hit the U.S. tech sector like a brick wall.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has launched a very public charm campaign on the president’s ego as part of a strategy to delay Apple’s exposure to the tariffs, which could inflate the cost of an iPhone by up to 25 percent. So far Cook has managed to keep Apple largely out of Trump’s mess, but the mid-December tariffs would hit every Apple product that isn’t exempted.
According to the Washington Post, reports had indicated that Apple was considering moving its Mac Pro assembly line in Texas to a plant near Shanghai before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative caved and granted the exemptions last week. The exemption also resolves some awkward political problems for Trump, who has repeatedly bragged about all the Apple jobs he was supposedly bringing back stateside.
CNBC noted that, par for the course, Trump was insisting that Apple pay the tariffs as recently as July:
In July, Trump signaled in a tweet that he wanted to reject Apple’s applications for the Mac Pro exclusions. Trump tweeted on July 26: “Apple will not be given Tariff waiver, or relief, for Mac Pro parts that are made in China. Make them in the USA, no Tariffs!”
“A man I have a lot of liking for and respect is Tim Cook, and we’ll work it out, I think they’re going to announce that they’re going to build a plant in Texas, and if they do that I’m starting to get very happy, okay,” Trump later said.
However, Politico noted that Cook “dined privately with the president in August, the second summer in a row he has done so.” Neat! That all sounds very much like the president isn’t picking and choosing who will suffer the most from his trade war based on who has the willpower to sit by nodding politely as he chokes down a rock-hard steak.
“The Mac Pro is Apple’s most powerful computer ever and we’re proud to be building it in Austin,” Cook said in a statement to CNBC. “We thank the administration for their support enabling this opportunity.”