Tim Cook is optimistic about the US resolving its trade war with China

  • Apple has been deeply affected by Trump's trade war with China, which has resulted in the iPhone maker paying tariffs on several products including AirPods and the Apple Watch.

  • CEO Tim Cook said in Apple's fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday that he was optimistic the US and China would come to a trade agreement. "My view is very positive in terms of how things are going," he told analysts.

  • A Bloomberg report on Thursday suggested that Trump might rescind some tariffs in an initial phase of a trade agreement.

Apple has been hit hard by President Trump's trade war on China, paying tariffs on several products whose parts originate in China.

But CEO Tim Cook said during Apple's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday that he's optimistic that the US and China will come to a trade agreement.

Trump's first round of tariffs kicked in during September, a 15% levy on products imported from China. That hit Apple, which reportedly began paying tariffs on the Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod, and some models of its Beats headphones. The iPhone is expected to be impacted by a December round of tariffs.

Cook told analysts on Wednesday: "We are paying some tariffs today as you know, some that went into effect pre-September, and some others that went into effect in September. So we are paying some that's been comprehended."

He continued: "But in general, my view is very positive in terms of how things are going, and that positive view is obviously factored in our guidance as well.

"And just the tone I think has changed significantly and I have long thought that it was in both countries, best interests to get to an agreement that may be initially doesn't solve everything but solves some things that each party may want and get to a better place than where we're at and I'm hopeful that that's where we're headed."

Cook might be right to be optimistic. The US and China are close to finalizing the first stage of a trade agreement, which may prevent further tariff escalations. According to Reuters, China is pushing the US to drop tariffs on smartphones, laptops, and toys, and also to drop plans to impose further tariffs in December.

Cook has been consistently optimistic about the trade war, and quietly trying to influence the outcome behind the scenes. The Wall Street Journal reported in October that Cook meets regularly with the president, as well as family members such as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. In August, Trump told reporters that Cook had made a convincing case that the trade war was helping Apple's non-US competitors, namely Korean smartphone giant Samsung.

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