President-elect Donald Trump said that Apple CEO Tim Cook “loves this country” and that he’s “got his eyes open” to US-based manufacturing, in an interview with Axios’ Mike Allen published on Wednesday.
Trump repeatedly talked about Apple on the campaign trail, vowing to make the company build its products, like the iPhone, in the United States.
Here’s what Trump said:
“I really believe he loves this country and I think he’d like to do something major here. And I told him, I said, ‘Tim, it’s going to be a big achievement the day you start building some of your big plants in this country instead of other countries.’ And I think he’s got his eyes open to it. I think he’s got his eyes open to it.”
Cook was a Hillary Clinton supporter and held a fundraiser for her in August 2016.
But it turns out Apple may stand to benefit from a Trump administration, especially if Trump is able to cut repatriation taxes, so that Apple could bring billions of dollars in overseas cash back to the United States.
One of Trump’s top priorities is striking deals with American companies so he can claim that his administration is saving or creating American jobs. Apple building a big factory would be a huge win for Trump’s trade policy.
But Apple is already supporting American manufacturing. Many of the companies that supply parts for the iPhone and other Apple products have factories in the US – like Corning, which makes glass for the iPhone and is based in New York.
But building a big assembly plant, like those that Foxconn runs for Apple in China, seems to be what Trump wants Apple to do.
Apple reportedly has asked its big Asian manufacturing partners, like Foxconn, into looking into building Apple products domestically. Apple also owns a giant manufacturing facility in Arizona it is currently using as a data center that recently applied for special customs status related to manufacturing.
In December, Cook was one of several elite technology CEOs who met with Trump in his office.
“Governments can affect our ability to do what we do. They can affect it in positive ways and they can affect in not so positive ways. What we do is focus on the policies,” Cook explained in an internal memo distributed to Apple employees.
“We have other things that are more business-centric – like tax reform – and something we’ve long advocated for: a simple system. And we’d like intellectual property reform to try to stop the people suing when they don’t do anything as a company,” Cook wrote.