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U.S. to Spare Some Apple Goods From Latest China Tariffs, Sources Say

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© Bloomberg

By Jenny Leonard and Saleha Mohsin, Bloomberg

The Trump administration will spare a category of high-tech products that includes the Apple Watch and AirPods headphone from the next round of tariffs it’s imposing on Chinese goods, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The government is expected to release as early as Monday the final list of as much as $200 billion of Chinese products that will be hit with a new 10 percent tariff, according to five people familiar with the matter. A product code that covers Apple Inc.’s Watch and AirPods -- as well as similar smart watches, fitness trackers and other goods made by competitors -- is not on the list, the two people said.

The people asked not to be identified because the new round of tariffs hasn’t yet been announced. Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The product code covers wireless devices, and it was included on a preliminary list the administration released in July. Other Apple products under the code include the HomePod speaker, BeatsWL headphones, and AirPort and Time Capsule internet routers. The value of such imports from China is about $12 billion, according to one of the people.

Earlier this month, Apple said a “wide range” of its products would be hit by the proposed tariffs. The company didn’t identify the iPhone as a product that would be subject to duties in a Sept. 5 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Apple asked Lighthizer to reconsider imposing the tariffs and instead take other measures that would support the U.S. economy and American consumers.
© Bloomberg

“Tariffs increase the cost of our U.S. operations, divert our resources, and disadvantage Apple compared to foreign competitors,” according to Apple’s letter. “More broadly, tariffs will lead to higher U.S. consumer prices, lower overall U.S. economic growth, and other unintended economic consequences.”

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook -- who dined with President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey golf resort in August -- has said he hopes “calm heads prevail” in the trade conflict between the U.S. and China. The company’s sprawling production chain is centered in China. Earlier this year, a Chinese Communist Party newspaper named Apple among the American companies that would be “most damaged” if a trade war erupted.

American industry has come out strongly against Trump’s tariffs, saying cost increases could raise prices for consumers.

The administration has revised the list of Chinese goods that will be hit by tariffs following a feedback period and more than a week of public hearings last month. Like Apple, most U.S. businesses that submitted comments were opposed to the tariffs being enacted.

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