$200 surcharge for Made in America iPhone could solve Apple's big problem, according to one analyst

Apple needs to market 'made-in-America' iPhones, analyst says

The president's steep border tax proposals will be a net negative for Apple, even with the repatriation of Apple's "huge" overseas cash pile, Brian White, global head of technology hardware and software at Drexel Hamilton, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday.

One solution: White suggests a special-edition "Made in America" iPhone that costs an extra $100 to $200.

"There will be a lot of pressure to bring some manufacturing back to the U.S.," White said. "If I were Apple, I would bring whatever they need to bring back — through the repatriation, because it may be connected — and they could market iPhones made in the U.S. and charge a premium."

Customers come to the newly opened Apple store on December 10, 2016 in Shanghai, China.
VCG | Getty Images

Apple has already become a central point of contention between China and the U.S. when it comes to trade policy. A state-backed newspaper warned that "iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback" if President Donald Trump carried out his promised 45 percent tariffs on trade.

Within his first few days in office, President Donald Trump has released executive orders that he said will improve conditions for domestic manufacturers, including a memorandum directing the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Critics of that move, including Republican Senator John McCain, noted that withdrawing from the trade deal may force American companies to forfeit their strategic positions in China.

Apple's supplier dossier lists about 350 addresses in China, where some of its most high-profile partners, like Foxconn, are located. China is also key to the company's promise to return to growth next year.

"Both countries need each other a lot," White said. "Foxconn, for example, employees a million people working on Apple products in China. We, as consumers — the vast majority of consumers in the U.S. — enjoy lower prices. Both countries are winning based on the way things are set up."

Foxconn has said it is in preliminary discussions for U.S. expansion, and Apple does have some U.S.-made computers.

Still, White said he still expects the lion's share of iPhones to be made in China going forward. Regardless, he said he expects Apple to report growing iPhone sales when it releases earnings next week.

"Can [CEO] Tim Cook make Apple grow again?," White said. "I think that's what we're going to see next week."

Disclosure: Apple is an investment banking client of Drexel Hamilton.

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