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Trump Says Apple’s Tim Cook Is Worried About Samsung's Import Levy Edge

Jennifer Jacobs and Mark Gurman

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President Donald Trump said Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook voiced concerns about chief competitor Samsung Electronics getting an edge because its products, unlike Apple’s, won’t be subject to tariffs when imported by the U.S.

Cook and Trump had dinner on Friday night, while the president was at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump described the conversation to reporters as he prepared to travel back to Washington.

The majority of Apple’s products are due to be hit with 10% tariffs in the next weeks or months. Levies on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple laptops have been pushed back to Dec. 15, but the tariff hit on the Apple Watch, AirPods, and many accessories is still planned for Sept. 1.

Trump said Cook made a “good case” about the difficulty in competing with Samsung if Apple products are subject to import tariffs. “I thought he made a very compelling argument.”

Apple will be hit by tariffs because it makes the majority of its devices in China before importing them to the U.S. and other parts of the world.

Samsung, however, builds its products across several countries, including Vietnam and South Korea in addition to China. That means their tariff impact will be far less than the impact to Cupertino, California-based Apple.

“It’s tough for Apple to pay tariffs if it’s competing with a very good company that’s not,” Trump said.

Apple needs to incorporate the cost of tariffs into the cost of goods, while Samsung currently won’t, putting Apple at a competitive disadvantage. Samsung is launching its latest device, the Note 10, later this month, while Apple is planning upgrades to the Apple Watch, iPhone, and its computers for later this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net;Mark Gurman in San Francisco at mgurman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Ros Krasny, Matthew G. Miller

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