US President Donald Trump who visited Apple's Austin-based Mac Pro plant has said the government is "looking at" whether Apple should be exempt from China tariffs. "When you build in the United States, you don't have to worry about tariffs," he said, accompanied by CEO Tim Cook as he toured the Mac Pro computer manufacturing facility on Wednesday.
"We're looking at that," he said in footage streamed by Fox News. Trump also cited South Korean major Samsung as a reason behind his decision to look into tariffs. "The problem we have is you have Samsung, it's a great company, but it's a competitor of Apple. And it's not fair because we have a trade deal, we made a great trade deal with South Korea. But we have to treat Apple in a somewhat similar basis as we treat Samsung," Trump was quoted as saying.
In August, Trump praised Cook for "making a good case" that tariffs on China will help Samsung gain more as it is based in South Korea and does not need to pay any tariffs. Cook took Trump to various locations at the plant, showcasing how Mac Pro desktops are being manufactured.
A worker explained part of the assembly process, and showed the bottom of a computer with the inscription: "Assembled in the USA". "That's what we want," Trump was quoted as saying.
The US President later tweeted, taking a jibe at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in his usual style: "Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America. Today Nancy Pelosi closed Congress because she doesn't care about American Workers!." Before his visit, Apple announced it has started construction of a new $1 billion, 133-acre campus and production of the all-new Mac Pro that it aims to ship to customers starting in December.
The new campus, near the already-running Mac Pro production facility, will initially house 5,000 employees, with the capacity to grow to 15,000, and is expected to open in 2022. Mac Pro units are now in production in Austin and will soon ship to customers across the Americas.
Apple said it is on track to contribute $350 billion to the US economy between 2018 and 2023, and during that time, will hire an additional 20,000 employees in cities across the country. The current 244,000-square-foot Mac Pro facility employs more than 500 people in a range of roles, including electrical engineers and electronics assemblers, who build each unique unit to customers' specifications.
Apple and its manufacturing partners invested over $200 million in the Mac Pro facility in Austin, building out the complex assembly line where the Mac Pro is produced.