Easier to 'move the moon off its orbit' than move iPhone production to US: Gene Munster

If Apple ultimately decided to move production of its iPhone from China to the United States, it would be a “massive” undertaking, venture capitalist Gene Munster told CNBC on Monday.

Donald Trump suggested in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he could place a 10 percent levy on iPhones and laptops imported from China.

Munster, managing partner of technology-focused firm Loup Ventures, said he was surprised by the president’s statement. “[Apple CEO] Tim Cook has done a great job of trying to be in the good graces of Trump,” he said on “Closing Bell.”

But if things escalated and Apple were to think about leaving China, Munster said, “it is probably easier to move the moon off its orbit than it is to shift iPhone production back to the U.S.”

Trump has been pushing Apple to make its products in the U.S. instead of China. In September, he tweeted that prices may increase because of “massive tariffs” and urged the company to “start building new plants now” in the U.S.

However, Munster said it is easy to talk about but extremely hard to do.

“We’re talking about something that would take five-plus years to do. There’s near a million people, even with the cuts at Foxconn, that work on Apple products in China,” he said.

In September, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said iPhone prices would rise significantly if the smartphone were assembled domestically. In a note to clients, analyst Wamsi Mohan said under the “most likely” scenario in which Apple moves 10 percent of its iPhone assembly to the U.S., the average selling price of the iPhone would rise by 9 percent. If it shifts 50 percent or 100 percent to the U.S., iPhone prices would increase by 14 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

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