When he sat down with some of the editors of The New York Times on Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump admitted that Apple CEO Tim Cook had called him.
Cook and Trump haven’t always been on the best of terms — back in February, Trump (then an iPhone user), called for a boycott of Apple products during the San Bernardino iPhone unlock dispute. And don’t forget that Tim Cook was on Hillary Clinton’s list of potential VP candidates.
But Trump seems stoked that the CEO of the world’s richest company would call him. This is how he described the conversation to The Times:
I was honored yesterday, I got a call from Bill Gates, great call, we had a great conversation, I got a call from Tim Cook at Apple, and I said, ‘Tim, you know one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States, where instead of going to China, and going to Vietnam, and going to the places that you go to, you’re making your product right here.’ He said, ‘I understand that.’ I said: ‘I think we’ll create the incentives for you, and I think you’re going to do it. We’re going for a very large tax cut for corporations, which you’ll be happy about.’
This isn’t the first time Trump has pushed Apple to make its products in the United States. Back in January, Trump told a crowd at Liberty University that he was, “going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of other countries”.
Of course, the problem is that there is very little incentive for Apple to do that. Tax breaks are one thing (and Apple keeps much of its cash overseas anyway), but there are plenty of reasons aside from cheap labour that make it better for Apple to build iPhones overseas. The labour isn’t just cheaper; it’s often better. Moreover, the supply chains in Asia are much better, and those factories already exist at a scale that would take years to develop in the United States.
At least Trump has now conceded that maybe, just maybe, humans have contributed to global warming. Who knows, once he takes office he might realise that the likelihood of a American-made iPhone is a silly pipe dream.