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Apple CEO Tim Cook hits out at Trump’s tariffs: 'They show up as a tax on the consumer' (AAPL)
During a conference call on Tuesday, CEO Tim Cook said that he hoped "calm heads prevail" in the escalating rounds of trade restrictions between the United States and China.
"Our view on tariffs is that they show up as a tax on the consumer and end up resulting in lower economic growth," Cook said. "And sometimes can bring about significant risk of unintended consequences."
Cook said that none of the tariffs that have already been implemented have directly affected any Apple products, such as the iPhone. But Cook warned that the latest round, on $200 billion in Chinese goods — including some electronics — was still under evaluation for their impacts on the company.
"It's actually a tedious process in going through it because you not only have to analyze the revenue products, which are a bit more straightforward to analyze, but you also have to analyze the purchases that you're making through other companies that are not related to revenue," Cook said.
"Maybe they're related to data centers and that sort of thing," he continued.
Reuters previously reported that the $200 billion round of tariffs could hit the Apple Watch thanks to an obscure classification by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. That list is currently in a public comment period, which ends in the fall.
Products including wearable, smart home hubs, smart speakers, wireless earbuds, and whole home Wi-Fi devices are all under tariff threat, according to the Consumer Technology Association, a trade group. Apple makes products in several of those categories.
Cook has met with President Donald Trump in the White House, and earlier this year, the New York Times reported that Trump told Cook that the U.S. government would not place a tariff on iPhones assembled in China.
Cook previously said that he told the President that tariffs were "not the right approach."
"I don't think that iPhone will get a tariff on it," Cook said in an interview in June.
Apple reported earnings on Tuesday of $2.34 per share on revenue of $53.3 billion on its most recent quarter ending in June. Apple is the most valuable publicly traded U.S. company.
Cook's full comments from the call are below:
Our view on tariffs is that they show up as a tax on the consumer and end up resulting in lower economic growth. And sometimes can bring about significant risk of unintended consequences.
That said, the trade relationships and agreements between the US and other major economies are very complex. It's clear that several are in need of modernizing.But we think that in the vast majority of situations that tariffs are not the approach to doing that.
We're sort of encouraging dialog and so forth. In terms of the tariffs that have been imposed or have exited the comment period, I think there's one that's exiting today, there have been three of those. Maybe I can walk through those briefly to make sure everyone is on the same page.
The first was the U.S. imposed a tariff on steel and aluminum, was, you know, many many different countries. That started, I believe, the beginning of June.
There have been two other tariffs that have totaled about $50 billion of goods from China that have either been implemented or exiting the comment period in this month. The latest one exits today.
If you look at those three tariffs, none of our products were directly affected by the tariffs. There is a fourth tariffs which includes goods valued at $200 billion, also focused on goods imported from China. That one is out for public comment, probably like everyone else, we're evaluating that one and we'll be sharing our views of it with the administration and so forth before the comment period for that one ends.
It's actually a tedious process in going through it because you not only have to analyze the revenue products, which are a bit more straightforward to analyze, but you also have to analyze the purchases that you're making through other companies that are not related to revenue. Maybe they're related to data centers and that sort of thing. So we're going through that now, and we'll be sharing our results later on those and ... public comment.
Of course the risk associated with more of a macroeconomic issue such as an economic slowdown in one or more countries or currency fluctuations that are related to tariffs is very difficult to quantify. So we're not even trying to quantify that, to be clear about it.
All of this said, we're optimistic, as I've been the whole time, that this will get sorted out. Because there is an inescapable mutuality between the US and China that sort of serves as a magnet to bring both countries together. Each country can only prosper if the other does. And of course the world needs both US and China to prosper for the world to do well.
That said, I can't predict the future. But I am optimistic that countries will get through this. And we are hoping that calm heads prevail.
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