Donald Trump is Playing Quite the Game of Tariff Cat and Mouse with Apple

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Whether you love or hate Donald Trump (and there seems to be very few people who don’t feel one way or the other), he certainly isn’t uninteresting. Whether he’s making up policy and new words on the fly, threatening to level entire nations, or drunk tweeting at 2 AM, the man is a constant stream of breaking news. One such off the cuff item was his announcement of a new round of tariffs on goods manufactured in China that goes into effect September 1st.

Apple was fresh off of a solid showing during their third quarter earnings call and their stock looked like it was on the rise again. Then the President came out of nowhere to turn their rally into another gut punch. It’s not the first time that his ill-timed Trump tariff news has knocked an Apple rally back, either.

Their stock was down as much as 6% since Trump announced the latest round of tariffs on August 1st. Bad news travels really fast when it comes to one of the largest companies in the word, but they certainly weren’t alone. Most of the tech sector has taken a beating thanks to Trump’s trade war.

Just when you think you have this guy figured out, he proves that he’s still far too crazy for that. After dumping cold water on the stock market with no warning two weeks ago, now we get a bit of a concession. The tariffs on many of the the tech categories on the list of goods in this round will be delayed until December 15th. This is crucial for the US Christmas shopping season, as it allows stores to stock up on the items people will be buying for holiday gifts ahead of the tariffs going into effect. Trump even admitted that the Christmas shopping season played a role in this move:

“We’ve delayed it so it won’t be relevant to the Christmas shopping season…”

Well, at least Apple and others got that much consideration from the President. When it comes to Apple, he’s usually more likely to tweet that “Tim Apple” should turn on a dime and bring iPhone manufacturing to the US. Right.

Unfortunately, not all Apple goods are making it onto the tariffs deferment list. In fact, both the Apple Watch and AirPods, two likely big sellers for the holidays, will be hit with a 10% tariff starting in a little over two weeks. Hopefully Apple doesn’t pass that extra cost on to consumers, but at least these are two of the company’s lower-cost items if they do.

The real good news for Apple is that their stock has rallied since yesterday’s announcement of the tariff deferral. However, I remember when Trump delayed an earlier round of tariffs a few months ago, as negotiations with China looked like they were finally going somewhere. Analysts and tech journalists relaxed, thinking that a resolution was in sight, only to be blindsided again when a deal didn’t materialize and the tariffs ended up going into effect, anyway.

With that in mind, while this delay may be good news for Apple right now, there is no way to know how things will turn out. Not with Donald Trump pulling the strings. I wouldn’t read anything more into it than what it is on the surface.


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