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Apple CEO warns Trump that tariffs on China won’t work

Cooperation is the best way to get what you want on trade from China, Tim Cook told the president last month.

Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, had a meeting with President Donald Trump last month.
James Martin

Apple CEO Tim Cook tried last month to school President Trump on why his trade plans for China are a bad idea, according to an interview with Bloomberg TV.

He also urged the president to address the status of undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

Cook met with Trump at the White House in late April just as Trump's rhetoric was heating up over trade between the US and China. Trump has announced plans to impose tariffs on at least $50 billion in Chinese goods, which sparked the Chinese to threaten retaliation. Cook acknowledged that previous US trade policies had their shortcomings but said Trump's approach isn't the answer, according to Bloomberg's interview.

Cook said he explained to Trump why tariffs "were not the right approach." Instead, he suggested that a cooperative relationship is more likely to yield positive results for both countries.  "And I showed him some more analytical kinds of things to demonstrate why," he told Bloomberg, which released part of the interview Tuesday to tease a full release in June.

Apple produces most of its devices in China. It's also an important and growing market for the company.  Apple is the fifth largest smartphone seller in China.

Cook also asked Trump to find a resolution for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children, Bloomberg reported. Congress has failed to come up with a replacement to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, that was put into place under President Obama. This program has allowed hundreds of thousands of people brought the country illegally as children to go to school, work and serve in the military.

Trump announced in September that he was ending the program and gave Congress until March to come up with a permanent solution. Congress failed to act, but the courts have stepped in. For now, DACA recipients are allowed to stay in the country. But their situation is precarious.

"We're only one ruling away from a catastrophic case there," Cook said, according to Bloomberg.

Cook has been outspoken about his support for DACA recipients, who are also known as Dreamers due to DREAM Act legislation that has repeatedly failed to pass Congress.

Cook offered a few other tidbits of information about Apple products. He said that the Apple Music streaming service has more than 50 million users who are either paid subscriptions or in free trials. In April, the company said it had passed 40 million subscribers. Cook also said Apple will make a stronger push into streaming video and original TV content.

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