One of China’s mouthpiece media outlets, the Global Times, has issued an op-ed to warn US President-Elect Donald Trump not to follow through on his campaign promise to declare the eastern nation a currency manipulator and issue heavy tariffs.
The Times brought up the 2009 episode of Sino-American trade relations wherein President Obama placed a 35 percent tariff on cheap Chinese tires. China decided shortly after to go after chicken and auto products from the US. The stalemate has held ever since. The US even expanded fees on steel with a 266 percent add-on, and for good reason too: depending on your source, a ton of steel from China can be bought for cheaper than a ton of cabbages.
The newspaper goes back to warning Trump that if he decides to penalize China for manipulating its volatile currency with a 45 percent flat tariff on all imports, Chinese companies may replace US suppliers, agricultural commodities may be left at port while automotive and tech sales may drop like flies. That includes iPhones.
Chinese consumers already see a 20 percent premium in iPhone pricing, give or take a bit with currency flux, compared to those in the US. A 65 percent total levy on a base model iPhone 7 would put the equivalent cost up to about $1,071. The World Trade Organization, according to the Global Times, will only allow any member country a 15 percent flat-out import rate, though, for a maximum of 150 days and barring any state of emergency. Even at that level, we’re still dealing with a base price of $876.
At that price, would the capitalist-communist country’s boasted-about and booming middle class really stand for a slab with an Apple logo on it? Would a painful, pricey prestige only help the company in spite of an in-kind trade action from China? What about the iPad and the MacBook Pro?
Who’s to know? Trump and President Xi Jinping, we suppose.