Apple Asks Trump for Tariff Exemptions on Mac Pro
The last thing we expect to hear these days, what with all of the tariff talk going on, is a company moving any part of their manufacturing process into China. But that’s exactly what Apple announced it would do for the new Mac Pro just a few weeks ago. As the company’s sole product that was assembled in the U.S., the move from Texas to China was sure to strike a sour note with the White House. But here we are, and there Apple went, and now the company is seeking exemptions from the 25 percent tariffs that would make an already expensive product even more pricy.
According to a Bloomberg report, Apple specifically asked the Trump administration to exclude hitting several components that make up the forthcoming Mac pro with those import tariffs. According to Apple’s filing with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, components at risk of being taxed include the stainless steel and aluminum frame, power supplies, internal cables, circuit boards, and the optional wheels. Though the Mac pro is not expressly mentioned in the document, Bloomberg noted, the features and dimensions listed by the company essentially give away that it’s the planned computer that’s being referred to.
This wouldn’t be the first tariff exemption for Apple. The Cupertino-based firm has seen a few of its flagship products spared from tariffs in the past, including the Apple Watch and AirPods. The company is also currently in the process of seeking exemptions for its Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad.
Though the Trump administration has kept a rather firm line on its tariff policy, the president has shown a willingness to allow for exemptions and relief in cases where companies can show their parts or products can only be obtained in China, or they aren’t “strategically important” to Chinese industrial programs, or if the tariffs would cause “severe economic harm.”
For Apple, the decision to move Mac Pro production to China wasn’t one that they simply defaulted to. In a 2012 interview with Bloomberg, Apple’s then-rookie CEO Tim Cook touted plans to at least partially manufacture and assemble desktop computers here in the U.S., even committing to invest $100 million in American manufacturing. Those plans backfired. First, Apple discovered that the machine shop they contracted to build custom screws was only able to crank out 1,000 per day. Then there were staffing issues where the Texas plant had just one person in charge of securing materials. In China, on the other hand, Apple found skilled workers in abundance—not to mention the fact that those skilled Chinese workers could be on the line for hours on end while the contract workers in Texas were limited to eight-hour shifts with no overtime.
So, despite their valiant effort to keep production of the Mac Pro here in the U.S., Apple made the decision to shift those plans across the Pacific.