Department of Justice opening broad antitrust review of major tech firms

The Justice Department announced Tuesday it will open a broad antitrust review into tech giants and how they acquired so much power.

The DOJ said in a statement the review will “consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online.” The Federal Trade Commission and Congress have both already started similar inquiries, and several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have called for the breakup of these massive companies.

The DOJ said the goal of the review is to identify antitrust issues so they can be fixed, The Wall Street Journal reports. In after-hours trading on Tuesday, shares for Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, and Facebook were all down.

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Source:: The Week – Business

      

Apple Moved Mac Pro Production to China. Now it Wants Tariff Exemptions

Apple has asked the Trump administration to exclude components that make up the forthcoming Mac Pro high-end desktop computer from import tariffs, weeks after planning to re-locate production of the line to China from Texas.

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is seeking relief from duties of 25% on key Mac Pro parts and accessories that go with it, ranging from the stainless steel and aluminum frame, power supplies, internal cables and circuit boards, and its optional wheels, according to filings posted by the Office of U.S. Trade Representative. The documents don’t specifically mention the Mac Pro, but the features and dimensions listed by Apple in the filing closely resemble the planned computer.

The exclusion requests from the iPhone maker were posted July 18 and are now subject to a public comment period before they’re reviewed. Some Apple products have been spared from tariffs in the past, including the Apple Watch and AirPods. Apple declined to comment on the filing.

U.S. President Donald Trump has promised relief if companies can show that parts or products can only be obtained in China, aren’t “strategically important” to Chinese industrial programs, or that the duties would cause “severe economic harm.” Trump has tweeted that companies won’t face a tariff if they make their goods “at home in the USA.”

The new Mac Pro will be manufactured in China, a person familiar with the company’s plans said last month, shifting production of what had been Apple’s only major device assembled in the U.S. The previous design had been built in Texas since 2013. The new model was announced in June and will go on sale later this year, starting at $5999. Apple said last month that “final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process.”

Apple is also seeking duty exclusions on its Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad, complementary devices for operating the computer, as well as an accompanying USB cable for charging external mobile devices.

Trump slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods last year in response to a trade deficit and allegations of intellectual property theft and unfair trade practices as the world’s two largest economies seek to negotiate a sweeping trade deal.

Trump had threatened tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports in May in response to what he said was Beijing’s reneging on agreed provisions. But he put them on hold after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in June …read more

Source:: Time – Business

      

Trump Meets With Chipmakers on Huawei and Other Economic Issues

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump met with executives from several of the nation’s leading chip and computer part makers Monday and discussed restrictions his administration has imposed on the sale of components to Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, the White House said.

Huawei is embroiled in a trade dispute between China and the U.S. The Trump administration in May sanctioned Huawei, which it has deemed a threat to national security, and curbed sales of U.S. equipment to the Chinese company. The move was widely seen as intended to persuade resistant U.S. allies in Europe to exclude Huawei equipment from their next-generation wireless networks, known as 5G.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently announced a partial reprieve: His department will issue export licenses to companies to sell technology to prohibited foreign companies such as Huawei only when it’s determined there is no threat to national security.

The White House said the tech CEOs requested Monday that the Commerce Department make timely decisions on equipment sales, and the president agreed. The executives also expressed optimism about the deployment of 5G networks in the U.S.

Trump’s executive order in May empowered the government to ban the technology and services of “foreign adversaries” deemed to pose “unacceptable risks” to national security. It didn’t name specific countries or companies but followed months of U.S. pressure on Huawei, the world’s biggest supplier of network gear. Meanwhile, Trump has been escalating tariffs on Chinese imports.

The CEOs of chipmakers Micron, Qualcomm, Intel and Broadcom attended the White House meeting, as well as the chief executives of Western Digital, which makes data storage devices and cloud storage, and Cisco, which sells routers, switches and software.

The companies’ business has been hurt by the restrictions over Huawei.

Also attending was Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Google supports Huawei’s smartphones with its Android operating system. The tech giant announced in May it would comply with the U.S. restrictions meant to punish Huawei. Google said it would continue to support existing Huawei smartphones but future devices would not have its flagship apps and services, including maps, Gmail and search. Only basic services would be available for future versions.

Huawei’s smartphone sales in the U.S. are tiny, and the Chinese company’s footprint in telecom networks is limited to smaller wireless and internet providers. That means any impact on U.S. consumers of a Google services cutoff would be slight.

Spokesmen for Google and Intel declined to comment Monday. Qualcomm spokespeople didn’t return a message seeking …read more

Source:: Time – Business