This week, Apple said that a proposed new round of $200 billion in additional tariffs on Chinese imports would raise prices on some of its products, including the Apple Watch and the Mac mini. Earlier speculation was that those tariffs, proposed in July, would take effect in early October, though trade associations have been gearing up for the announcement to come as early as the end of this week.
The tariffs are top of mind for Apple chief executive Tim Cook, who has personally lobbied Trump for months on issues of taxes and trade, even dining with the president and first lady Melania Trump at the White House in August.
"China, right now, is a far bigger problem", Trump said.
He continued: "And I hate to say that, but behind that, there's another $267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want".
"That totally changes the equation", Trump said.
The White House has accused China of stealing USA intellectual property and forcing American companies to share their technology with Chinese companies.
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Mr. Trump claims that China's trade policies are unfair, including the widespread practice of requiring foreign companies operating there to share intellectual property. USA stocks erased gains after Trump's remarks.
In addition, the chip industry is a source of trade surplus for the USA, including with China, Intel argued. All Apple had to do to avoid import taxes was to rebuild all of its manufacturing in the U.S. "Start building new plants now", he tweeted.
It said some of the parts it relies on for product development, including processors and research equipment, would also be hit by the tariffs.
The US has already imposed tariffs on $50bn in Chinese products, and Beijing has punched back with tariffs on $50bn in American goods.
The company said the tariffs would "show up as a tax on USA consumers" and "increase the cost of Apple products that our customers have come to rely on in their daily lives".
Specifically, Kudlow said, the United States was seeking "zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, zero subsidies, stop the IP theft, stop the technology transfer, allow Americans to own their own companies". Chinese diplomats complain that the Trump administration lacks a single negotiator empowered to make a deal and is vague about its objectives. "In the meantime, we are taking in billions of dollars of taxes coming in from China, and with the potential of billions and billions of dollars more taxes coming in".