Tim Cook has long maintained a presence on behalf of Apple (AAPL - Get Report) in China, given the country's importance to the tech giant as a supplier and assembler, as well as a significant consumer market. Now he's increasingly been applying those diplomatic skills on the U.S. side of that relationship as well.
Trade war fears and tariff threats have regularly hammered Apple (AAPL - Get Report) shares since 2018. With President Trump now engaged in a long-term tit-for-tat with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, trade relations have proven to be a fluid situation that often seems to change at the drop of a hat, and Cook has proven effective at communicating what Apple has to gain and lose from various policies.
Since Trump's election in November 2016, Cook has met with Trump on at least five occasions, including two dinners and one private meeting at the White House. Last Friday, the pair met for dinner at Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey to discuss tariffs; Cook has also dined with First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, at least once.
Speaking to reporters over the weekend, Trump said: "I have a lot of respect for Tim Cook, and Tim was talking to me about tariffs. And one of the things, and he made a good case, is that Samsung (SSNLF) is their number-one competitor, and Samsung is not paying tariffs because they're based in South Korea." Trump called Cook's argument "very compelling."
Early last week, the White House backed off a tariff on an additional $300 billion in goods from China, including cell phones and other electronics that would have hurt Apple. After the Administration announced a temporary reprieve on these tariffs until Dec. 15, Apple shares spiked 4%.
From the beginning of his term, Trump has promoted the idea that Apple (among other U.S. companies) should manufacture more products in the U.S. and generally increase their contributions to the domestic economy. So it may be no coincidence that last Friday, Apple issued a press release announcing that its U.S. job "footprint" had grown to 2.4 million, including 90,000 direct employees and 450,000 jobs supported at its suppliers in the U.S. The company noted that this figure had grown fourfold in the last eight years, and Apple also reiterated its goal of contributing $350 billion to the U.S. economy by 2023.
On Monday morning, Apple was up 0.6% to $211.61; shares are up 34% so far this year.
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