Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

The company has a lot at stake in a dispute between U.S. and China.

Tim Cook, the CEO of some company called Apple that makes phones or something, spent an hour with President Trump on Wednesday. They talked about trade.

Cook has been critical of the Trump administration’s trade policies and reportedly entered today’s meeting tasked with cooling off its trade dispute with China.

This would be in his company’s interest!

Apple reported $35 billion in revenue in the U.S. last quarter, and $18 billion in China – its two largest markets.

It’s heavily invested in that country. China is where Apple makes the vast majority of its products since the company decamped for Asia years ago.

And any jolt to the status quo will presumably not make Apple’s shareholders happy. While they just received a payout from the company after the Republicans cut taxes, a trade dispute is bad for businesses so integrated into China’s market. Plus, the Chinese government just put the squeeze on American agricultural exports to increase political pain on Trump after he announced a round of tariffs. Might they do the same to a big, profitable American company like Apple if Trump were to announce another?

Who’s to say what President Trump and Mr. Cook talked about. Remember last year when Trump said Cook told him Apple was building new factories in the United States? Apple never confirmed this, and it’s entirely possible the president just made that claim up – I bet Cook was pleased – but maybe that was discussed.

Who knows! But it sure sounds like it's not be easy being the CEO of Apple.

Labor rights groups always busting your chops about the labor practices in your Chinese supply chain:

“My hands turned bloodless white after a day of work,” said one of the workers, who makes a little over 4,000 yuan a month (just over $2 an hour) in her first job outside her home province of Henan.

Others busting you because you comply with the Chinese government’s censorship efforts:

(VPN apps) allow users in China bypass the country's infamous "Great Firewall" that heavily restricts access to foreign websites. Those apps also allow for privacy by hiding browsing activities from internet service providers.

Cook, during an earnings call, addressed the decision to remove those apps. He said that while Apple would "obviously rather not remove the apps," it will follow the law in whichever country it does business.

Meanwhile, you’ve got a president in the White House who wants your company to “build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries.” Subtle!

And all you probably really want to do is make an unbelievable amount of money selling iPhones.

There’s only one thing to do, as increased trade tensions threaten your business model: Get a hold of Kanye and ask him what he thinks you should do. Kanye probably has some ideas.