Apple’s stock has taken a beating this month, and it sunk even lower today after comments from Donald Trump in a Wall Street Journal interview pointed toward the possibility of additional trade tariffs. The President of the United States casually tossed around comments about how easily people can stand a 10% tariff on all electronics imported from China. Evidently, he isn’t all that concerned with preserving the economic gains of the last year, because tariffs like these will kill them fast enough to make your head spin.
As an Apple fan, I have no desire to pay an additional 10% for their products just because Donald Trump is more interested in looking tough than caring about his constituents. The fact is, because of Apple’s more premium prices, that may not be an issue for me. I just won’t be able to buy devices yearly anymore.
However, this is a very small matter compared with the potentially more devastating impacts of ridiculous threats like these. If Apple continues to fall because of these policies, it will be directly because of the actions of the President of the United States. He would be knee-capping one of the more successful companies in his own country in an attempt to sucker people into believing that he actually cares about manufacturing jobs.
Unfortunately, while Apple may be the current poster child for this nonsense, they definitely won’t be the only ones negatively affected. Basically all of Silicon Valley will feel this pain. In turn, so will everyone else. Our economy runs on technology, both literally and figuratively, Because of decisions made years ago by both parties and private companies, all of the ecosystem and assembly that goes into manufacturing electronic devices now elides in China. There is no getting around this and for the time being. There is no alternative. This is a classic case of using a shotgun to solve a problem when you really need a scalpel.
If the President wanted to unveil a plan to lay a foundation for a home-grown, American tech supply chain, then I would be all for it. It would take a decade or more to build such a thing up and would take tens of billions of dollars in investments to prop it up and get it to a point that it could be self-sustaining. However, that is the only intelligent way to handle this kind of thing. Instead, Donald Trump is simply going to end up hampering American businesses with a new tax.
I call this tariff a tax because it might as well be one. Businesses will have no choice but to pay the extra 10% for all of their tech needs, cutting into their profits. Many small businesses and consumers will just keep what they have longer and just no spend as much money on technology. Both of these will be just great for the economy.
The simple fact is this- there is no American electronics supply chain, nor will there be for many years to come. Saying that a 10% tariff will change that isn’t foolish. It’s a damn lie.