US to deny tariff relief for Apple Mac Pro parts from China

Apple says the new Mac Book Pro is designed and ensemble in the United States. (AFP pic)

WASHINGTON: US president Donald Trump on Friday said his administration would not grant Apple any relief for tariffs on parts made in China for its Mac Pro computer and later added he thought the firm would build a plant in Texas.

“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!” Trump tweeted.

On July 18, Apple asked the US Trade Representative’s office to waive 25% tariffs on 15 parts, including ones for the Mac Pro desktop computer.

The public comment period for those requests closes on Aug 1.

Trump later told reporters he thought Apple would build a plant in Texas, without elaborating on exactly what he was referring to or how he knew.

“I want Apple to build their plants in the United States. I don’t want them to build them in China. So when I heard they were going to build it in China, I said, ‘No, that’s OK, you can build it in China but when you send your product into the United States we’re going to tariff you,” he said.

“We’ll work it out,” he said. “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.”

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported in June that Apple is shifting manufacturing of its new Mac Pro desktop computer to China from Texas.

Apple issued a statement at the time that “like all of our products, the new Mac Pro is designed and engineered in California and includes components from several countries including the United States” and emphasised that “final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process.”

Representatives for Apple had no immediate comment on either the tariff or Texas plant comments on Friday.

Shares of the company sharply pared their gains after the tweets.

Apple chief executive officer (CEO) Tim Cook in December 2013 announced the company was building the Mac Pro in Texas after coming under criticism for assembling most of its products in lower-wage countries.

Apple does not disclose sales figures for its Mac Pro, but analysts do not believe it is a high-volume seller for the company compared to the iPhone.

Priced at US$6,000 and up, it is aimed at professional users such as movie and music studios.

Trump has previously made claims about Apple’s plans to build new US plants, which have not materialised.

Apple did say in December it would build a second campus in Austin, Texas.

The company is also spending US$390 million with supplier Finisar that helped the chipmaker re-open a 700,000-square-foot factory in Texas.