Apple Inc. (AAPL) Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook may have something to do with Donald Trump’s new stance on trade with China, with the executive telling Bloomberg he raised the issue of tariffs at a meeting in late April.
According to Bloomberg, Cook said his message during the meeting focused on how trade with China is important and that cooperation between China and the U.S. could enhance the economies of both countries. Cook also told Bloomberg that he urged President Trump to address the issue of the status of the Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country when they were children.
Tariff Fears Pressured Stocks
Earlier in the year, Trump roiled the markets when he announced tariffs on imported aluminum and steel and said the government has identified $50 billion of Chinese products it could hit with tariffs. That prompted concerns of a trade war between the two countries, sending stocks down. While Cook acknowledged there is a trade gap between the U.S. and China he said tariffs would make things worse. “It’s true, undoubtedly true, that not everyone has been advantaged from that -- in either country -- and we’ve got to work on that,” Cook said in the Bloomberg interview. “But I felt that tariffs were not the right approach there, and I showed him some more analytical kinds of things to demonstrate why.” (See more: Apple CEO Tim Cook Aims Jabs at Google, Facebook.)
Apple Has Weathered Trade Talk So Far
While Apple makes a large share of its products in China and sells them both there and in the U.S., it hasn’t yet been impacted by increased tensions. Still, there are concerns that it and other technology companies will be harmed if a full-scale trade war were to break out. According to Jefferies, the Wall Street firm, a group of 16 U.S. companies including Apple, Intel Corp. (INTC), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) earned 23% of their revenues or $105.5 billion in China in 2017. If Dell and HP are added to the list, the tech companies had $150 billion in Chinese revenue last year, according to Jefferies. (See more: U.S. Tech Firms' $150B China Revenue At Risk in Trade War.)
In a surprise Tweet from Trump this past weekend, the President appeared to walk back tough trade talk, saying he is working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to give ZTE Corp., the telecom equipment maker banned from doing business in the U.S., "a way to get back into business, fast." The White House under President Trump has prevented U.S. suppliers from working with ZTE for violating a sanctions agreement last year that pertained to business with North Korea and Iran. Trump has complained in the past that China is stealing U.S. jobs, but in his Sunday tweet changed his message, tweeting “too many jobs in China lost.”