Tim Cook talks U.S. iPhone manufacturing with Donald Trump


Donald Trump speaks to supporters at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Arizona.
Donald Trump wants Apple to bring its manufacturing back to the U.S.
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC

Tim Cook and President-elect Donald Trump haven’t exactly seen eye-to-eye on a number of issues previously.

However, during yesterday’s meeting with The New York Times editorial board, Trump revealed news about a recent phone conversation he had with Cook, containing details Trump thinks Apple has reason to “be happy about.”

Apple’s name popped up when Thomas Friedman asked whether Trump’s plan to bring manufacturing back to the United States could result in companies opting for robots instead of human employees.

“We’ll make the robots, too,” Trump quipped. He continued:

“Right now we don’t make the robots. We don’t make anything. But we’re going to, I mean, look, robotics is becoming very big and we’re going to do that. We’re going to have more factories. We can’t lose 70,000 factories. Just can’t do it. We’re going to start making things.

I was honored yesterday, I got a call from Bill Gates, great call, we had a great conversation, I got a call from Tim Cook at Apple, and I said, ‘Tim, you know one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States, where instead of going to China, and going to Vietnam, and going to the places that you go to, you’re making your product right here.’

He said, ‘I understand that.’ I said: ‘I think we’ll create the incentives for you, and I think you’re going to do it. We’re going for a very large tax cut for corporations, which you’ll be happy about.’”

So far, there has been mixed news for Apple following Trump’s election. On the one hand, Trump has talked about giving companies incentives to bring their overseas cash piles back home, which is an idea Cook has been outspokenly in favor of in the past.

At the same time, the possibility of extra tariffs placed on Chinese imports could well hurt Apple, particularly if the Chinese government decides to hurt American brands in China as a result.

If Apple were made to bring more manufacturing back to the United States (provided that this would even be possible), the move would have a detrimental impact on Apple’s profit margins. Apple would either have to absorb that or pass the extra cost along to customers.

Cook criticized Trump throughout the election cycle. A Hillary Clinton supporter who hosted fundraisers and was even considered as a possible VP, Cook was reportedly part of a group of billionaires, tech CEOs and politicians who flew to a private island resort to discuss plans for helping defeat Trump.

In the aftermath of Trump’s election, Cook sent a letter to Apple staffers saying that while there are “uncertainties ahead, you can be confident that Apple’s North Star hasn’t changed.”

Source: The New York Times