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Trump Administration Gives Apple More Tariff Relief


OAKLAND, Calif. — U.S. trade officials removed tariffs on the Apple Watch, the latest Apple device to avoid the United States-China trade war that had once looked like a dire threat to the company’s business.

The U.S. trade representative’s office said in a letter on Friday that it had granted Apple’s request that the Apple Watch, which is assembled in China, be exempt from tariffs. Apple had argued that it had not found a way to make the watch outside China to meet American demand for the device over the next year.

The Apple Watch was subject to the latest round of tariffs in the trade war, which were cut to 7.5 percent from 15 percent in a trade deal signed this year.

While Apple is among the biggest and most prominent importers of goods assembled in China, the company has mostly avoided tariffs on its major products throughout the yearslong trade war.

Some of its most lucrative products, including the iPhone, iPad and MacBook, weren’t subject to the tariffs even though large swaths of imported goods from China were. Other products, such as computer components, a wireless mouse and now the Apple Watch, received exemptions. Apple’s requests for exemptions for other devices, including AirPods, the iMac and its HomePod wireless speaker, are still pending.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has repeatedly lobbied President Trump to loosen his administration’s restrictions on trade with China.

That relationship became strained last year when Apple floated the idea of moving production of its Mac Pro computers to China from Texas because of tariffs on certain components coming from China.

After Mr. Trump tweeted that Apple would not be granted relief on those tariffs, his administration removed the tariffs. Months later, Mr. Trump toured the Texas factory where Apple had been making the Mac Pro for six years and took credit for the plant.

Ana Swanson contributed reporting from Washington.

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