Announcements issued by the US Trade Representative and the Federal Register show that while the tax on computer parts was widely postponed, US trade regulators approved 10 of Apple’s 15 tax-exempt applications on Friday.
This move by US officials can make it easier for Apple and small game console manufacturers to assemble equipment in the United States by reducing the cost of parts imports.
Apple did not explain why the exemption was required, but required parts, such as partially completed boards. Apple produces Mac Pro computers in Texas, which protects the computer from tariffs, but such intermediate parts are subject to customs duties.
Mac Pro computers start at $6,000 and are suitable for users such as music and movie studios. Due to its special design, the device has never been sold in large quantities. However, earlier this year, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple shifted production to China, it became a political hot spot.
Apple has never publicly commented on its exact production plan, but the US imposes tariffs on Chinese goods, making it complicated to assemble PCs in the United States. The third US tariff list, which came into effect last year, imposes tariffs on some fully assembled PCs and the major components that make them, which means that manufacturers are facing increased costs even when manufacturing machines in the United States.
Tariffs have also hit the PC gaming industry, where enthusiasts often assemble their own custom machines from parts, many of which come from China.
Apple has applied for exemptions for certain components, but President Donald Trump said that US regulators will not approve these components. Apple CEO Tim Cook then said in a July 30 earnings conference call that Apple hopes to continue to produce Mac Pro in the United States.
He told analysts on the conference call: “We hope to stay here.” He added that Apple is investing in it.
On Friday, trade officials canceled tariffs on a range of computer components for Apple and all other manufacturers, including partially assembled main boards and graphics cards. These are critical for computer assemblers because they include chips from Intel, NVIDIA and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. These chips are usually the most expensive parts of the machine.