Trump says China woes help US in trade talks, downplays Apple warning

Hopes to make deal with China; US officials to arrive in Beijing next week for face-to-face talks


Reuters January 05, 2019
Hopes to make deal with China; US officials to arrive in Beijing next week for face-to-face talks. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON/BEIJING: US President Donald Trump on Friday downplayed a revenue warning from Apple Inc that cited slowing sales in China and said China's weakening economic growth puts the United States in a strong position as negotiators from the world's two largest economies prepare for trade talks next week.

Trump has slapped import tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods as he seeks concessions from Beijing on issues ranging from industrial subsidies to hacking, sparking retaliation by China. The measures have disrupted trade, hurt manufacturing, roiled international markets and slowed the global economy.

US officials are heading to Beijing next week for the first face-to-face talks since Trump and China President Xi Jinping in December agreed to a 90-day truce in the trade war as they sought to strike a deal.

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"I think we will make a deal with China," Trump told reporters at the White House after a meeting with Democratic and Republican lawmakers about the US government shutdown. "I really think they want to. I think they sort of have to."

Beijing on Friday cut bank reserve requirements for a fifth time this year amid slowing growth at home and the punishing US tariffs on exports.

"China's not doing well now. And it puts us in a very strong position. We are doing very well," Trump said. "I hope we're going to make a deal with China. And if we don't, they're paying us tens of billions of dollars worth of tariffs -- not the worst thing in the world."

Official data this week showed manufacturing has slowed in both China and the US, though the US Labour Department on Friday reported a surge in new jobs in December along with higher wages.

The president downplayed the effects of the economic woes on US technology giant Apple Inc, which this week blamed slowing iPhone sales in China for a rare reduction in its quarterly sales forecast.

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When asked if he was concerned about Apple's revenue cut and share price drop, Trump said: "No, I'm not. I mean look, they've gone up a lot."

Trump tells Apple to build at home

Shares of Apple rebounded on Friday after a 10% nosedive on Thursday on the revenue warning. The shares closed at $148.26 on Friday, down about 5.1% for the week. For the 2018 full year, Apple shares fell 7%, though they are up about 24% since Trump took office in January 2017.

"They're going to be fine. Apple is a great company," Trump said, adding he had told Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to build his company's products at home in the US, something he has harped on previously.

"Apple makes its product in China. China is the biggest beneficiary of Apple, more than us, because they build their product mostly in China," Trump said. "I want Apple to make their iPhones and all of the great things that they make in the US. And that'll take place."

Apple's lowered revenue outlook along with a double-digit drop in earnings at commodities giant Cargill Inc on Thursday may be among the clearest warning signs yet that the trade war's effects have begun to hit US companies.

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