White House's Navarro on China trade talks: No knowledge of iPhone exemption

  • White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said Tuesday he has no knowledge of an exemption for Apple's iPhones in U.S. trade talks with China.
  • On Monday, The New York Times reported, citing a source, that President Donald Trump told Apple CEO Tim Cook the U.S. government would not impose tariffs on iPhones assembled in China.
  • Apple declined to comment to CNBC.

White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said Tuesday he has no knowledge of an exemption for Apple's iPhones in U.S. trade talks with China.

On Monday The New York Times reported, citing a source, that President Donald Trump told Apple CEO Tim Cook the U.S. government would not impose tariffs on iPhones assembled in China. The Times' story focused on how Cook visited both the White House and a major summit in Beijing in the last few months in an effort to soothe trade relations between the two countries.

The iPhone maker is worried Beijing will retaliate against U.S. pressure in ways that might constrain Apple's business, the Times said, citing three people familiar with the matter.

Shares of Apple traded about 1.7 percent lower Tuesday afternoon.

The company declined to comment to CNBC. Cook told CNN in an interview earlier this month he doesn't think the iPhone will get a tariff, "based on what I've been told and what I see."

Apple sells millions of iPhones in China and has 41 stores in the country.

Twenty percent of Apple's revenue is exposed to the Asian country, according to a Morgan Stanley report. Manufacturers of semiconductors, key to iPhone construction, are also the most sensitive industry to China, with 52 percent revenue exposure, the report said.

Navarro also said none of the Trump administration's negotiation efforts with Beijing have made progress on changing China's "predatory" trade practices.

China's offers shrunk throughout the talks, Navarro said. Beijing did offer to buy $200 billion in U.S. products over three to four years, he said.

Peter Navarro, director of the National Trade Council, pauses during an interview outside the White House.
Bloomberg | Getty Images
Peter Navarro, director of the National Trade Council, pauses during an interview outside the White House.

The trade dispute between the two countries escalated after Trump said in a statement late Monday that he has asked the United States Trade Representative to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for additional 10 percent tariffs. Beijing responded by saying China will protect its interests.

The announcement followed Beijing's statement Friday that 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion worth of U.S. goods will take effect July 6. Earlier that day, the Trump administration said 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports would also go into effect July 6.

The 10 percent tariff level in the White House's latest statement will limit consumer impact, Navarro said Tuesday.

He reiterated the U.S. priorities are cutting the trade deficit with China and intellectual property protection.

— CNBC's Kayla Tausche and Reuters contributed to this report.