Trump: No Tariff Waivers for Mac Pro Components (Update)

(Image credit: Apple)

Updated, 7/31/19, 11:55 a.m. PT: During an earnings call on Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company wants to keep making the Mac Pro in the U.S. but isn't currently equipped to do so, according to The Verge. "In terms of the exclusions, we’ve been making the Mac Pro in the U.S.," Cook reportedly said. "We want to continue to do that. So we’re working and investing currently in capacity to do so, because want to continue to be here. And so that’s what’s behind the exclusions. So we’re explaining that and hope for a positive outcome." That would presumably include tariff waivers.

Cook didn't elaborate on Apple's plans for the Mac Pro's production. It's possible that Apple could manufacture some units in the U.S. and some in China, (which could help it avoid tariffs if it doesn't get an exemption or is only temporarily exempt). Either way, it's clear Apple won't accept U.S. President Donald Trump's statements on Twitter as the final word on the Mac Pro's exemption status.

Original article, 7/26/19, 10:10 a.m. PT:

Apple's request to exempt the new Mac Pro's power supply from tariffs on goods originating from China will be denied, U.S. President Donald Trump said today, before encouraging the company to manufacture its products in the U.S. instead of making them elsewhere.

Here's what Trump said in a tweet: "Apple will not be given Tariff wavers [sic], or relief, for Mac Pro parts that are made in China. Make them in the USA, no Tariffs!" It's not clear if that declaration is final. Tariff exemptions are handled via the the United States Trade Representative (USTR), which is part of the executive office, but regulatory actions haven't always aligned with Trump's statements.

Apple said in the application for tariff exemption that it can't source the PSU used in the new Mac Pro from anywhere but China. It also said the component "is not strategically important or related to 'Made in China 2025' or other Chinese industrial programs."

Yet, the company all but invited criticism for these claims by reportedly shifting production of the new Mac Pro from the U.S. to China in late June. The previous generation Mac Pro that debuted in 2013 was manufactured in the U.S. Apple revealed the next-generation Mac Pro during WWDC in June, however, and The Wall Street Journal reported soon after that the device's production would move to China. That meant the last major Apple product made in America would join the rest of the company's offerings in being manufactured overseas.

That shift had pretty bad timing, at least from a political standpoint, because the U.S. and China have been engaged in a trade dispute for months. Trump halted the expansion of tariffs in June, after saying that China President Xi Jinping agreed to more trade talks. But the current tariffs are still in place, and if those talks fall through like they did earlier this year, Trump could quickly expand the tariffs.

Reports have also indicated that Apple plans to move at least some of its production outside China. Foxconn has said that it could make the company's products outside the country, and its founder encouraged Apple to start manufacturing in Taiwan instead, so the company's reliance on Chinese manufacturing seems tenuous

Until there's an official statement regarding the Mac Pro's exemption status, however, it's hard to predict what might happen. Trump could simply be rallying support via social media; he could also be planning to make an example of Apple. What we do know is that Apple's application for tariff exemption for Mac Pro components is on the USTR website for public comment until August 1.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • Jake Hall
  • NightHawkRMX
    Apple hires lawyers to get around the laws and incriminate innocent screen refurbishers. I'm glad the government isn't letting them get around this law and i hope Apple can't manipulate the legislative system any more.

    Apple deserves this and more for screwing customers and all 3rd party repair shops.
  • JoBalz
    Maybe if they hadn't just offshored their Mac Pro production from the US to China, they might have had a chance. But they blew any chance they had, shipping off jobs from here to China just to cut their labor costs (but I doubt they would have reduced the Mac Pro price to reflect the savings). Typical Apple Arrogance(tm).
  • JQB45
    I'm with the rest of you, Apple does not deserve tariff relieve, since I also agree they would not lower the prices to consumers to match the commonly found inferior Chinese workmanship. Also what id10t at Apple thought it was a good idea to move production of any sort from the US to China during a trade war? Who ever that bean counter is and the people that approved it need to be fired.

    I'm not saying all products from China are poor quality but its pretty easy to find higher quality components almost anywhere else in the world at this time. Also if quality is the same I'd rather support a rational player in the World economy rather then a country that artificially adjust the value of its currency in order to have an unfair advantage.

    China in a lot of industries is basically a monopoly and should be treated as such.
  • Giroro
    Apple's Tim Cook: "Apparently, we literally don't know how to build normal computers anymore. "
  • mihen
    I'm sure the Taiwan psu makers are trying to move manufacturing to Taiwan. I'm not sure if they completely stopped manufacturing in Taiwan since it's difficult to research.
  • bloodroses
    Considering Apple is one of the major offenders for why the tariffs are going on (as well as the other SV tech companies) , they don't deserve a single break.
    you reap what you sow...
  • bit_user
    bloodroses said:
    Considering Apple is one of the major offenders for why the tariffs are going on
    No. Not to defend Apple, but they really have nothing to do with the underlying cause of the tariffs.
  • Ninjawithagun
    Apple is just pissed because they can no longer blindly extort child labor laws (or lack thereof) in China. Ultimately, Apple's greed is there own limitation. But don't worry, the Orange Man is Bad, thus the liberal media will find a way to label this as another 'racist' act.
  • NightHawkRMX
    Yea i really can't stand chinese manufacturing.

    I don't know what the proper way to improve conditions is, but something needs to change.

    In the 1800s USA we had child labor in unsafe working conditions. We have since fixed this, but china is even worse. They force kids to work with all of the modern chemicals and things without any modern safety measures.

    I say stopping supporting chinese manufacturing untill they change their ways would be a good way. A boycott of sorts.