When President Donald Trump spoke to Apple’s Chief Executive Tim Cook about the impact of US tariffs on Chinese imports, Cook warned that those duties could give an edge to rival Samsung.
The president said that Cook “made a good case” that the tariffs could hurt Apple, given Samsung’s products wouldn’t be subject to the duties.
“I thought he made a very compelling argument, so I’m thinking about it,” Trump reportedly said of the Apple boss.
The US is due to impose tariffs on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese products this year.
Under pressure from retailers to prevent that move on Sept. 1, which would likely have caused prices of popular consumer goods to spike, the President’s team warned that applying new tariffs on all Chinese imports could effectively “ruin Christmas,” according to people familiar with the matter.
In response, Trump announced the tariffs would be delayed until Dec. 15, when products for the holiday season would have already shipped.
The statement comes amid a grueling trade war that Trump says will eventually benefit Americans–and will demonstrate his toughness on China. And while markets briefly soared, the gains were erased a day later amid new fears of an impending recession.
As signals mount of a global slowdown–spurred partly by the trade war–Trump and his advisers are increasingly looking for ways to prevent economic anxieties from reaching Americans before next year’s presidential election.
Trade Barriers Hark to Bygone Era
In waging a trade war on several fronts, President Trump appears to be returning to a bygone era, when high barriers to trade were a daily fact of economic life.
Some Trump administration officials have portrayed tariffs as a short-term tool to pressure countries into negotiating better trade agreements. But many economists say the recent proliferation of such measures is holding back U.S. and global economic growth.
Trump’s levies on products ranging from steel and solar panels to textiles have raised the average tariff applied on imports purchased by the U.S. to just over 4%, according to analyses by Deutsche Bank and UBS Group AG.
That is considerably higher than the same figure for some of the countries in the president’s sight. The average tariff on imports to the European Union is around 1.8%, according to the World Bank. Canada’s is 1.5%.
However, China—the president’s chief antagonist in his trade disputes—levies an average tariff on imports of 4.6%, Deutsche Bank estimates. The threatened tariff extensions, if implemented, would push the rate higher still.
The last time the average U.S. tariff levied on imports was anywhere near its current level was in the 1970s, figures from the World Bank show.