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Apple is the 'big test case' for Trump offshoring policy

Calacanis: Tim Cook not likely to make Trump Tower pilgrimage

Inside.com CEO Jason Calacanis told CNBC on Wednesday that Donald Trump's negotiations with Apple will prove whether the president-elect can actually return offshored jobs back to the United States.

Beyond tweets and public appearances, the real estate mogul is yet to establish a clear, consistent strategy addressing U.S. companies that hire abroad. "Trump obviously likes to negotiate," Calacanis said referring to the recent Carrier deal. "He likes to bully you, then brings you to the lobby, take a selfie and then have some victory laps with you."

However, Calacanis contends that if the president-elect wants to lure wealthier companies like Apple, he will need to use more creative financial incentives. Calacanis said that Trump could offer tax amnesty to a firm like Apple to spur domestic hiring and wage increases.

"Trump wants to be a hero to the people, and he's got a little bit of negotiating room with the repatriation of taxes," Calacanis said. "I can see him using it as a real big carrot and stick to companies."

Yet, it remains to be seen if these tactics could work. "Apple is going to be the big test case," Calacanis continued. "Apple under Steve Jobs said, 'Listen: These jobs are never coming back.' Can these jobs come back?" Calacanis asked. "It's a big question."

Currently, Calacanis believes that Apple would not move back to the United States to avoid the high production costs. However, Calacanis said that if Trump combined tariffs on Apple products made in China with tax breaks for Apple products made in the U.S., it might improve the U.S. employment situation. Calacanis also thought that such heavy interference with Apple's operations "could be a disaster."

"That's I think the danger of Trump. It's all fun right now to have everybody going to Trump Tower. It's great theater," Calacanis said. "What if Trump, who is answerable to no one, puts a $50 tariff on iPhones coming from China?"

"The guy is complete loose cannon," Calacanis said. "I think this is what the American people wanted. They wanted to clean house. And you know what, it's going to be an interesting experiment."