Apple CEO Tim Cook blasted President Trump over his approach to trade and tariffs with China, as concerns over a potential trade war between the world's two largest economies continue to rise, a new interview reveals.
During a Bloomberg Television interview with David Rubenstein set to air next month, Cook said the two nations need to work together, rather than go at it alone.
He said he expressed his views to the president during a meeting last month.
“It’s true, undoubtedly true, that not everyone has been advantaged from that ‒ in either country ‒ and we’ve got to work on that,” Cook said, according to Bloomberg. “But I felt that tariffs were not the right approach there, and I showed him some more analytical kinds of things to demonstrate why.”
During the meeting, which was tweeted about by the president, Cook also discussed issues such as fixing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Cook, 57, said that the U.S. is "only one ruling away from a catastrophic case there" and urged Trump to work with lawmakers to come up with a solution for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, colloquially known as DREAMers.
Trade war abating?
On Tuesday morning, Trump took to Twitter to discuss that trade negotiations with China were ongoing.
"Trade negotiations are continuing with China," Trump wrote. "They have been making hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the U.S., for many years. Stay tuned!"
The threat of a full-scale trade war appears to be waning, even if the two sides are "very far apart," U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
In recent days, Trump has tweeted about reinstating access to Chinese telecom giant ZTE.
"President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast," Trump tweeted on May 13. "Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!"
He followed that up on May 14, saying that ZTE buys many of its parts from American companies and is part of a larger deal being negotiated with China.
"ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from U.S. companies," Trump added. "This is also reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China and my personal relationship with President Xi."
ZTE said last week that it would cease major operations in the U.S. after the country announced punitive measures against it for not complying with a settlement and violating sanctions that were set on Iran and North Korea.
Important for Apple
The outcome of any trade talks is of utmost importance to Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple, which generates a significant portion of its revenue from China.
In its most recent quarter, Apple generated $13 billion in revenue from Greater China, up 21 percent year-over-year, the strongest growth rate Apple has seen there in two-and-a-half years. On the company's conference call with investors, Cook said the growth in China was aided by the iPhone X, Apple's $999 smartphone and its wearable business.
While Apple gets a lot of revenue from China, its relationship with the world's most populated country goes even further.
Apple uses Foxconn Technology, the largest private employer in China, to assemble many of its products, including the iPhone. In the past, both Apple and Foxconn have come under intense criticism for labor practices in the country, but Apple has worked with its partners to improve these practices.
In its 2018 progress report, the company outlined the progress it has made and the challenges that lie ahead.
The Bloomberg interview comes after Cook, 57, spoke to investors earlier this month and said he was optimistic that the two sides could work out their differences.
"I think my own view is that China and the U.S. have this unavoidable mutuality where China only wins if the U.S. wins and the U.S. only wins if China wins and the world only wins if China and the U.S. win," Cook said when asked if the threat of a trade war between the world's two largest economies could impact the company's business. "And so I think there's lots of things that bind the countries together and I'm actually very optimistic."
Cook added history has shown that "countries that embrace openness and diversity do much, much better than the ones that are closed."
He ended his response by saying: "I'm a big believer that the two countries together can both win and grow the pie, not just allocate it differently. And so that's our focus, and I'm optimistic that — I don't know every play by play that will happen, but over time, I think that view will prevail."
Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia