President Donald Trump says Apple CEO Tim Cook “made a very compelling argument” that tariffs on China will hamper Apple’s ability to compete with Samsung. The pair had dinner on Friday night at the president’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and Trump described the conversation to reporters from publications including Bloomberg, CNBC, and Fox News on the way back to Washington.
“I had a very good meeting with Tim Cook,” 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 number-one competitor, and Samsung is not paying tariffs because they’re based in South Korea.”
“And it’s tough for Apple to pay tariffs if they’re competing with a very good company that’s not. I said, ‘How good a competitor?’ He said they are a very good competitor. So Samsung is not paying tariffs because they’re based in a different location, mostly South Korea but they’re based in South Korea. And I thought he made a very compelling argument, so I’m thinking about it.”
Most of Apple’s products are assembled in China and will be subject to an additional 10 percent import tax later this year. This is due to go into effect on September 1st for products like the Apple Watch and AirPods, though the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook lineup won’t be hit until December 15th after a delay to accommodate the holiday shopping season.
Samsung has a more diversified supply chain, with much of its manufacturing located in South Korea and Vietnam. As such, the company won’t be hit as hard by the Trump administration’s ongoing trade war with China. Apple is said to be looking at moving more of its manufacturing elsewhere.
Trump gave advance word of the dinner with Cook on Twitter Friday evening, saying Apple “will be spending vast sums of money in the US. Great!” though he doesn’t appear to have mentioned any details of further US investment in his comments to reporters.