Apple supply chain remains intact
You’d think a company that specializes in selling high-end electronics would have its supply chain disrupted following the 9.0 March earthquake that struck Japan, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of electronic components.
Instead, Apple posted the biggest non-holiday quarterly revenue and earnings in its history. Apple reported earnings per share of $6.40 on revenues of $24.67 billion, good for an 83 percent increase over the same quarter a year ago.
The reason for the results is pretty simple, as Apple launched the iPad 2 and started working with Verizon in the company’s second quarter. Apple also saw the new Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro line in the quarter.
What’s remarkable about all this is the fact that Apple is supplied heavily by Japanese components, whose production has slowed since the massive earthquake struck Japan on March 11.
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“We source hundreds, literally hundreds of items from Japan, and they range from components such as LCDs, optical drives, NAND flash and DRAM, to base materials such as resins, coatings, and foil that are part of the production process of several layers back in the supply chain,” Apple COO Tim Cook said during the company’s earnings call Wednesday.
“The earthquake and subsequent tsunami and the associated nuclear crisis caused disruption for many of these suppliers. And many unaffected suppliers have been impacted by power interruptions.
“But since the disaster, Apple employees have literally been working around the clock with our supplier partners in Japan and have been able to implement a number of contingency plans. Our preference from the beginning of this tragedy has been to remain with our long-term partners in Japan, and I have to say they have displayed an incredible resilience that I’ve personally never seen before in the aftermath of this disaster.”
Apple sold 3.76 million Macs during its second quarter, a 28 percent increase from the same quarter a year ago. Apple also sold more iPhones and MacBooks in its second quarter.
EU and US agree end to Airbus-Boeing supply chain tariffs
The EU and US have agreed to resolve a 17-year dispute over aircraft subsidies, suspending tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of goods that have plagued procurement leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.
Under an agreement reached by European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Tuesday, the tariffs will be halted for a period of at least five years.
It will bring an end to punitive and disruptive levies on supply chains that have little to do with the argument, which became embroiled in the trade battle. Businesses on both sides of the dispute have been hit with more than $3.3bn in duties since they were first imposed by the US in October 2019, according the EC.
The US imposed charges on goods upto $7.5bn in response to a World Trade Organisation ruling that judged the EU’s support of Airbus, its biggest aircraft manufacturer, unlawful. A year later in November 2020, the EU hit back. The WTO found the US had violated trade rules in its favourable treatment of Boeing, and was hit with EU duties worth $4bn.
In all the tariffs affected $11.5bn worth of goods, including French cheese, Scotch whisky, aircraft and machinery in Europe, and sugarcane products, handbags and tobacco in America. Procurement leaders on both sides of the fence were forced to wrestle with tariffs of 15% on aircraft and components, and 25% on non-aircraft related products.
Boeing-Airbus dispute by the numbers
- The dispute began in 2004
- Tariffs suspended for 5 years
- $11.5bn worth of goods affected by tariffs
- $3.3bn in duties paid by businesses to date
- 15% levy on aircraft and 25% on non-aircraft goods suspended
Both sides welcome end to tariffs
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen branded the truce a “major step” in ending what is the longest running dispute in WTO history. It began in 2004.
“I am happy to see that after intensive work between the European Commission and the US administration, our transatlantic partnership is on its way to reaching cruising speed. This shows the new spirit of cooperation between the EU and the US and that we can solve the other issues to our mutual benefit,” she added.
Both aircraft manufacturers have welcomed the news. Airbus said in a statement that it will hopefully bring to an end the “lose-lose tariffs” that are affecting industries already facing “many challenges”. Boeing added that it will “fully support the U.S. Government’s efforts to ensure that the principles in this understanding are respected”.
The US aerospace firm added: "The understanding reached today commits the EU to addressing launch aid, and leaves in place the necessary rules to ensure that the EU and United States live up to that commitment, without requiring further WTO action."
This week’s decision expands upon a short-term tariff truce announced in March this year. The EC says it will work closely with the US to try and further resolve the dispute, establishing a Working Group on Large Civil Aircraft led by each side’s trade minister.
Airbus last month signalled to suppliers that post-pandemic recovery was on the horizon, telling them to scale up to meet a return to pre-COVID manufacturing levels. “The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” said Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury, adding that suppliers should prepare for a period of intensive production “when market conditions call for it.”