Apple Watch, Sonos speakers, other gadgets could feel cost of U.S. President Trump’s tariffs

“The latest round of U.S. tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods could hit the Apple Watch, health trackers, streaming music speakers and other accessories assembled in China, government rulings on tariffs show,” Stephen Nellis reports for Reuters. “The rulings name Apple Inc’s watch, several Fitbit Inc activity trackers and connected speakers from Sonos Inc.”

“The devices have all been determined by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials to fall under an obscure subheading of data transmission machines in the sprawling list of U.S. tariff codes. And that particular subheading is included in the more than 6,000 such codes in President Donald Trump’s most recent round of proposed tariffs released earlier this month,” Nellis reports. “That $200 billion list of tariffs is in a public comment period. But if the list goes into effect this fall, the products from Apple, Fitbit and Sonos could face a 10 percent tariff.”

“The specific products listed in customs rulings are the original Apple Watch; Fitbit’s Charge, Charge HR and Surge models; and Sonos’s Play:3, Play:5 and SUB speakers,” Nellis reports. “The New York Times has reported that Trump told Apple CEO Tim Cook during a meeting in May that the U.S. government would not levy tariffs on iPhones assembled in China, citing a person familiar with the meeting.”

“It is possible that the products from Apple, Fitbit and Sonos no longer fall under tariff codes in the $200 billion list, trade experts said. The codes applied to specific products are only public knowledge because their makers asked regulators to rule on their proper classification. And some of the products have been replaced by newer models that could be classified differently.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The original Apple Watch was replaced by Series 1 and Series 2 on September 16, 2016. Currently, Apple Watch Series 3 is the premier model and is soon to be supplanted by Series 4.

This is a non-story as far as Apple Watch is concerned. Reuters likely included “Apple Watch” in their headline and throughout their story, from the very first sentence on, in order to draw eyeballs, not mentioning that the “Apple Watch” being discussed was discontinued in 2016 and not stating that it’s “possible” it will “no longer fall under tariff codes” until paragraph number 10. Reuters didn’t bury the lede; there was no lede.

I’m cognizant that in both the U.S. and China, there have been cases where everyone hasn’t benefited, where the benefit hasn’t been balanced. My belief is that one plus one equals three. The pie gets larger, working together. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, March 24, 2018

At least half of the popular fallacies about economics come from assuming that economic activity is a zero-sum game, in which what is gained by someone is lost by someone else. But transactions would not continue unless both sides gained, whether in international trade, employment, or renting an apartment. — Thomas Sowell, June 14, 2006

What trade war? Markets shrug off US-China dueling tariffs – July 6, 2018


  1. I remember during election time before Trump was President, through a Tweet he let Ford know that if they build a factory in Mexico, those cars entering USA will incur high tariff. So Ford backed decided to keep the factory in America intact. With Apple, Sonos and other mentioned in the article it seems that President Trump had no choice because the only factories for these American goods is in China.

    1. Well a finely monitored forum like this one (ha!) would delete the antagonising non-sequitur snark posts from the anonymous coward. If it was a well run website.

      Snoop – While the current administration likes to take credit for anything it can sell to its base of low-information supporters, the truth is much more complicated. Ford has neither shuttered any existing Mexico plant nor chosen what expansion may occur there in the near future.

      According to Wikipedia, Ford currently runs over 75 major factories in well over a dozen countries, on every continent except Antarctica. Most recently Ford closed 5 plants in Australia (2016), demolished a shuttered Indianapolis plant (2017), and have overhauled several plants for new vehicles to be brought to market in the next few years (Ford Bronco and Ranger in Wayne, Michigan, for example). Flat Rock, Michigan (formerly a joint venture with Mazda), is slated to build a future electric car.

      You can be assured that a global corporation like Ford will choose to develop, test, and build its products where it makes most economic sense. If an autocrat attempts to overcome wage disparity of over 100% by slapping on a 25% import tariff, all that will happen is prices to US buyers will increase 25%. Same for the products that Apple makes — except Apple doesn’t make hardly anything. Apple relies on communist Chinese producers and IP-thieving South Korean firms for its parts and assembly. Apple has no more pride in the American worker than any other corporation. Only maximizing cash hoard and executive bonus matters. Ain’t nothing the current administration is going to do to change it — just look at what’s holding almost all liquid capital today: corporations and banks. Citizens and governments are in debt, and therefore are held over a barrel beholden to the rich no matter how many late night tweets one farts out. Also, Russia is not the friend of anyone. Russia is also an IP thief, poisoned British nationals, supported a murderous Syrian dictator, bombed US allies, took over Crimea with an undemocratic info war and coup, and YES meddled with US information, media, and voting systems. That’s all directly from US intelligence agencies. If Trump can’t get that through his dense orange head, then I doubt he can parse the complex workings of Ford.

  2. If the original Apple Watch falls into a category that will be subject to tariffs, why should we believe that the Series 3 is not in the same category?

    The Sowell quote from MDN just tracks David Ricardo (died 1823), who pointed out the fallacy of zero-sum mercantilism like the theory pursued by the current administration. Free trade wasn’t invented lately by liberals. It was the dominant economic theory for two centuries. Apparently, making America great again requires turning the calendar back to the 1820s, more or less.

    1. I should have added that the political expression of the British Government’s commitment to mercantilist economics accounts, directly or indirectly, for the overwhelming majority of the grievances against King George III listed in the American Declaration of Independence. The rejection of free trade is intimately connected to political authoritarianism.

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