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Trump may slap tariffs on iPhones: Report

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If negotiations are unsuccessful, he will put tariffs on rest of China imports

WASHINGTON US President Donald Trump said on Monday he expected to move ahead with raising tariffs on US$200 billion (S$275 billion) in Chinese imports to 25 per cent from the current 10 per cent.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal ahead of his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Argentina at the weekend, he said it was "highly unlikely" he would accept China's request to hold off on the increase, due to take effect on Jan 1.

"The only deal would be China has to open up their country to competition from the United States," Mr Trump told the Journal.

"As far as other countries are concerned, that's up to them."

Mr Trump, who is due to meet Mr Xi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, said if negotiations are unsuccessful, he will also put tariffs on the rest of Chinese imports.

"If we don't make a deal, then I'm going to put the US$267 billion additional on" at a tariff rate of either 10 per cent or 25 per cent, Mr Trump told the Journal.

A Chinese official told reporters last week that the two leaders would look to set guidelines for future talks.

"The main issue is how to settle down the trade war," the official said on condition of anonymity. "I am conservatively optimistic that can be done."

Mr Trump said the next round of tariffs could also be placed on laptops and Apple's iPhones imported from China, which are part of that US$267 billion list of goods not yet hit by tariffs.

Cell phones and computers, among China's biggest exports to the US, have thus far been spared as the administration has sought to minimise the impact on US consumers.

"Maybe. Depends on what the rate is," Mr Trump said, referring to the possibility of tariffs on mobile phones and laptops, according to the Journal.

"I mean, I can make it 10 percent, and people could stand that very easily."

Shares in Apple fell in after-hours trading after the interview was published.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has personally pressed the issue of tariffs with Mr Trump, telling him that while there are valid concerns about US-China trade relations, tariffs are not the best way to resolve them.

Despite using contract manufacturers to make most of its products overseas, Apple has also sought to emphasise its contribution to the US economy, saying it plans to spend about US$55 billion this year with its US-based suppliers. - REUTERS