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US lifts tariffs on Apple Watch imports from China

Apple CEO Tim Cook and President Donald Trump

The Apple Watch is no longer being impacted by a tariff applied by the U.S. government on goods imported from China as part of its trade war, with the U.S. Trade Representative approving the exclusion of the wearable device from the financial measures.

On September 1, 2019, the administration of President Donald Trump applied a tariffon goods imported from China, affecting a wide array of Apple products, including the Apple Watch, HomePod, Mac models, and all headphones. As with its other products, Apple petitioned the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in November to exclude its products from the tariff, which had made importing goods for sale in the United States more expensive.

The USTR has, months later, wrote to Apple and informed of its decision to exclude the Apple Watch from the tariff, Bloomberg reports. The decision means it has become immediately cheaper for Apple to import the Apple Watch into the United States.

Apple's argument to the USTR claimed the Apple Watch wasn't "strategically important," nor related to Chinese initiatives such as "Made in China 2025," which are designed to encourage manufacturing in the country. Apple also claimed it had yet to find a suitable source for Apple Watch assembly based outside of China that could cope with U.S. demand for the product.

Initially the tariff, which was applied as part of an ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, increased the cost to Apple for importing the Apple Watch up by 15%. This was later reduced down to 7.5% on February 15, as part of an agreement with Beijing to relax some of the tariffs. The deal in December also eliminated another wave of tariffs due to be implemented on December 15, which would have affected the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook lines.

When asked for comment, an Apple spokesperson said the company had nothing to add to the USTR filing.