President Donald Trump was shown around Apple's Mac Pro facility in Texas by CEO Tim Cook. The visit comes months after Apple announced intent to build its flagship desktop in the U.S. in an apparent turnabout spurred by ongoing trade tensions with China.
Trump visited Apple's facilities in Austin, Texas, and was shown around both the existing campus and the new site that broke ground today.
In a brief interview following the tour, Trump touted Apple's $1.3 trillion valuation, holding the company up as a model of American success. He also commented on Cook, saying he is a "very special person" because of the "great job potential" his company holds.
"Tim Cook is somebody that I greatly respect, a great leader, a great businessman," Trump said.
Cook thanked members of the Trump administration, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who helped Apple "get this far," saying it "would not be possible without them." Cook did not specify what assistance was given, and whether it involved events beyond today's visit, but the U.S. Trade Representative's office in September granted a number of tariff exemptions related to the Mac Pro.
The Apple chief went on to talk up the company's pro-level desktop and its American pedigree.
"We could not be more proud of the product," Cook said of Mac Pro. "It's an example of American design, American manufacturing and American ingenuity."
On Mac Pro's U.S. manufacturing, Trump said, "The nice part is [Cook] doesn't have to worry about tariffs, because when you build in the United States you don't have to worry about tariffs. It sort of helps people make a decision to come in."
The tour follows a long history of Cook calling and lobbying Trump in efforts to alleviate the effects of the administration's tariffs of imports from China.
Cook has managed to maintain a continuing relationship with the President which has seen Apple receive a green light on some, but not all, of its requests.
Trump has described Cook as "a great executive," simply because he calls.
"Others go out and hire very expensive consultants," said Trump. "Tim Cook calls Donald Trump directly."
Famously, the President has also referred to Cook as "Tim Apple."
"People like Tim," he said, "you're expanding all over and doing things I really wanted you to right from the beginning. I used to say, 'Tim, you've got to start doing it over here,' and you really have. You really put a big investment in our country. We appreciate it very much, Tim Apple."
Cook, or his social media team, then briefly changed his Twitter name to match.
Alongside Cook's direct calling and meeting with the President, Apple has recently hired a pro-Trump lobbyist to help with continuing issues over the US/China trade battle.
Central to the issues over tariffs are the costs that the Administration is adding to imports from China, including both components and finished devices. The Mac Pro has long been Apple's sole product actually manufactured in the US, but even that requires certain components that must be sourced from China.
Following one such discussion with Tim Cook, the President did temporarily alter plans for tariffs. The Administration initially removed cellphones and laptop computers from the list.
"The problem was that Samsung, a competitor, his competitor, wouldn't be paying tariffs, and Tim Cook would," Trump said. "I gotta help him out short-term, because it's a great American company."
However, Trump has also continually told Apple to build its hardware in the US.
"We're going to get Apple to build their damn computers in this country instead of other countries," said Trump during his election campaign in 2016.
Later, as President, he reportedly phoned Cook to thank him for announcing a $350 billion investment in the nation.
"When I heard the news yesterday," said Trump, "and Tim Cook is a great guy, the head of Apple — when I heard the news, I heard $350 billion and I said, 'You mean $350 million, that is going to be a beautiful plant,' and they said, 'No.' They said, 'It is $350 billion.'"
The $350 billion investment is in expanding Apple operations of all sorts across the whole United States. Apple has also concentrated on expansion in certain areas including Austin, Texas.
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