Apple’s Tim Cook joins Trump and Melania for dinner at Bedminster

Apple CEO Tim Cook has met President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania for dinner at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The White House has yet to release a readout of the conversation between Trump and Cook over the Friday evening dinner at Trump’s golf club, and details of the discussion remain scant.

Tariffs were likely a topic of conversation though, as Cook has not been shy about criticizing Trump’s approach to trade.

‘Our view on tariffs is that they show up as a tax on the consumer and wind up resulting in lower economic growth and sometimes can bring about significant risk of unintended consequences,’ Cook said, without mentioning Trump by name, during Apple’s most recent earnings call on July 31. 

Currently, Apple Watches are set to be subject to a 10 per cent tariff effective this fall, after US Customs and Border Protection officials found the devices fall into an obscure category included in the list of newly taxed imports.

Though iPhones, which are made in China, have not yet been included in Trump’s tariffs on Chinese exports, they could be included in new rounds of levies on $500 billion in Chinese goods that Trump has threatened to impose. 

As well, Apple runs 41 stores in China, and has sold hundreds of millions of phones there, leaving it vulnerable to Chinese retaliation if the trade war escalates. Last quarter, China accounted for $9.55 billion of the company’s revenue, an 18 per cent share of the total.

The First Lady’s Instagram account offered the only official comment on Friday’s dinner, saying that she and the President ‘enjoyed dinner with Tim Cook last night in Bedminster. Proud of the job he is doing at Apple – big innovations & investments in the USA, which positively impacts our economy!’

Cook seems to have warmed up to Trump since their frosty first meeting after the 2016 election, in which a dour-faced Cook joined a roundtable of tech titans in Trump Tower.

‘Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be,’ Cook explained in a note to employees justifying the meeting. ‘So whether it’s in this country, or the European Union, or in China or South America, we engage. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree.’

Since then, Cook has spoken out sharply about Trump’s immigration policies, decrying attempts to end DACA and zero-tolerance arrest policies at the border. 

However, Cook was said to be thrilled at last year’s tax reform bill, and promised Apple would make greater US investments.

Trump seized upon the common ground in a tweet on Friday announcing plans for the dinner.

‘Looking forward to dinner tonight with Tim Cook of Apple. He is investing big dollars in U.S.A.’ Trump wrote. 

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