Trump Urges Apple, Ford to Avoid Tariffs by Shifting Production to US

September 9, 2018 Updated: September 10, 2018

President Donald Trump nudged the Ford Motor Co. and Apple Inc. to move their manufacturing to the United States to avoid the tariffs that Washington is imposing on Beijing as part of a protracted trade dispute.

Trump conveyed the message in a pair of Twitter messages on Sept. 8 and Sept. 9, suggesting that the companies won’t pay tariffs on their products if they move their production plants back home.

“Ford has abruptly killed a plan to sell a Chinese-made small vehicle in the U.S. because of the prospect of higher U.S. Tariffs,” Trump wrote in a message on Sept. 9, citing CNBC. “This is just the beginning. This car can now be BUILT IN THE U.S.A. and Ford will pay no tariffs!”

“Apple prices may increase because of the massive Tariffs we may be imposing on China – but there is an easy solution where there would be ZERO tax, and indeed a tax incentive,” Trump wrote the day before, on Sept. 8. “Make your products in the United States instead of China. Start building new plants now. Exciting!”

Apple told U.S. trade representatives that a “wide range” of its products would be affected by the Trump administration’s proposed tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese-made goods. Cell phones, the biggest U.S. import from China, have so far been spared but would be hit if Trump activates the new $267 billion tariff list.

AirPods headphones, some of Apple’s Beats headphones and its new HomePod smart speaker also face levies as part of the proposed tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, according to the letter submitted on Sept. 5.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Sept. 7 that he has tariffs on an additional $267 billion in Chinese goods “ready to go on short notice if I want.” The United States has already imposed 25 percent duties on $50 billion in Chinese goods. China retaliated with a set of its own tariffs.

Ford cited tariffs on Chinese goods when it killed a plan to sell the Chinese-made Focus Active crossover in the United States. The company still plans to sell the car in Europe and China, according to Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s North America chief.

About 95 percent of the vehicles Ford sells in the United States are assembled in the United States, Canada, or Mexico, Galhotra said.

Ford rival General Motors Co. took a different route and asked the Trump administration for an exemption for its Chinese-made Buick Envision sports utility vehicle.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov
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