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Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the new Mac Pro with a cost as high as $6,000 as he delivers the keynote address during the 2019 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) at the San Jose Convention Center on June 03, 2019 in San Jose, California. But the company is focused more than ever on putting consumer services at the forefront of its future success.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Apple has asked the Trump administration to exclude 15 components from import tariffs, according to U.S. Trade Representative comment filings published recently.

The Chinese-made inputs Apple asked to have exempted from the 25% import tax include parts like a power supply unit, stainless-steel structural enclosure, circuit boards and completed mice and trackpads, according to the filings.

“There are no other sources for this proprietary, Apple-designed component,” according to the filings. Apple also said that there are no comparable products for the 15 parts from United States-based or other international sources.

The filings underscore the tightrope Apple is walking due to the U.S. trade war with China. Although Apple’s products are designed in California, and contain parts and technology from the U.S., final assembly for most of Apple’s products is completed in China. Apple assembles some Mac computers in Cork, Ireland.

While the filings do not specify which Apple product houses the components, descriptions of the parts indicate they are inputs for the Mac Pro, a high-end computer set to go on sale later this year starting at $5,999.

Earlier models of the Mac Pro were assembled in the U.S., but the Wall Street Journal previously reported that a new redesign announced earlier this year will be manufactured in China. Apple declined to comment.

Apple opposes the U.S. tariffs, which went into effect last fall and were raised to 25% in May. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said he personally told President Donald Trump that tariffs are the wrong approach to China. Although Apple warned last fall that the tariffs would affect “a wide range of Apple products,” it ended up dodging the duties for products including the Apple Watch and AirPods.

Bloomberg first reported the filings.

Follow @CNBCtech on Twitter for the latest tech industry news.

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Qasem Soleimani killing was a ‘wake-up call’ to Tehran: Prince Turki



Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence minister Prince Turki al-Faisal bin Abdulziz al-Saud attends the meeting of foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on March 30, 2017.


The U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top commander showed Tehran that it can’t get away with its provocations, but won’t stop the country from continuing with its agenda, a former chief of Saudi intelligence told CNBC.

“The taking out of (Qasem) Soleimani definitely has been an important step to check at least some of the ambitions of Iran after its very provocative actions in the past year,” Saudi Arabian Prince Turki Al-Faisal told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble.

“The attacks on the oil tankers, culminating in the attack on the Aramco facilities, and there was no response,” he said. “This was a sort of a wake-up call to the Iranian government and the Iranian leadership that they can’t get away with it.”

Tehran has denied involvement in both incidents.

However, Al-Faisal said the death of Soleimani would not halt Iran’s “agenda.

“It definitely was a very important step,” he said. “Whether it would stop further activities by Iran to use the methods that Soleimani was very clever in using — I don’t think so.”

That’s because the Iranian leadership has an “agenda and a project,” he said. “That project is to be the dominant representative, if you like, of all of Islam in the world.”

Tehran has used “surrogates” such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen to advance its project, he said.

“That is going to continue,” he predicted. “Maybe less efficiently than when Soleimani was alive, but inevitably, equally terroristic and, in my view, evil in its intent.”

US presence in the Middle East

Al-Faisal also weighed in on the impact of U.S. troops pulling out of countries in the region.

The U.S. should have withdrawn from Afghanistan at “earlier stages when it was more doable than perhaps now,” he said, citing a “missed opportunity” after the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.

When asked if it is better for Iraq that American forces leave, he said: “Not today.”

He recalled speaking to American and British officials at the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. “I remember I used to say to them that I hope that you will not leave Iraq as precipitously as you entered it.”

“We’ve seen America pull out troops and then al-Qaeda begins operations, and then they have to push back in troops under General (David) Petraeus,” Al-Faisal said.

“I don’t know what type of … organization (is) coming, but it will definitely be much more complicated and more blood shedding than it is with American troops in there.”

— CNBC’s Amanda Macias, Joanna Tan and Natasha Turak contributed to this report.

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Here’s what Putin’s reforms and Russia’s political upheaval means



A screen in the media room broadcasts Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, speaking during his annual state of the nation address in Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020.


Russia saw extreme political upheaval on Wednesday with constitutional reforms announced by President Vladimir Putin leading to the resignation of government.

By the end of the day, Putin had also proposed a new prime minister and political commentary was rife with speculation over the strongman’s strategy and grip on power.

The day started with Putin giving his annual address to lawmakers and members of the elite in which he announced a national referendum on the reforms that would seek to limit presidential power and hand more control to parliament. one notable change would be that the Duma (Russia’s parliament), rather than the president, would appoint any prime minister.

Putin also suggested limiting future presidential terms to just two. Like the U.S., future presidents would have no possibility to return after these tow terms (as he himself has done). Potential new powers for the State Council, an advisory body to the Kremlin led by Putin, were also outlined. But there was little detail on what the changes could mean for Putin’s future role in public life.

Soon after, and with little warning, the government resigned to help implement the changes. As Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev resigned on state television, with Putin sitting beside him, he said that the changes would “introduce substantial changes not only to an entire range of articles of the constitution, but also to the entire balance of power, the power of the executive, the power of the legislature, the power of judiciary.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev are seen at a meeting with the government, following Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly, in Moscow, Russia on January 15, 2020.

Anadolu Agency

Putin then appointed Medvedev as his deputy within the state’s Security Council and swiftly nominated Mikhail Mishustin, the head of the Federal Tax Service, as the country’s new prime minister.

The announcements from Putin — the longest-serving Russian leader since Stalin, having occupied the presidential and prime ministerial offices alternatively for 20 years — prompted widespread speculation as to Russia’s political future, and Putin’s, after his current term in office ends in 2024.

What is Putin up to and what does it all mean? Here’s a selection of comment and analysis from experts on what the changes could mean:

What do the reforms mean?

“Putin proposed a referendum on a package of constitutional changes, which would reshape the balance of power in the country’s political system,” Andrius Tursa, Central & Eastern Europe Advisor at Teneo Intelligence, said in a note late Wednesday.

“The key suggested amendments would curb the extensive presidential influence by extending the role of Duma and regional governors, while the mandate of the largely symbolic State Council would be specified (and potentially strengthened) in the constitution.”

All this suggests that Putin is intending to remain in power after his second term in office expires in 2024, Tursa said.

“The proposed constitutional amendments, however, say little on what position he would undertake post-2024, as he could become the head of government, the speaker of the parliament or remain the chairman of the strengthened Security Council.”

“It’s probably not the case that Putin has a definite end-state planned right now,” Daragh McDowell, head of Europe and Principal Russia Analyst, Verisk Maplecroft, told CNBC Thursday.

“The beauty of the constitutional reforms … (are) that it gives him a number of different possible perches where he can sit within the elite to continue to exercise influence of control over the political process after his current terms ends in 2024.”

Influence after 2024

“These developments should be seen in the context of the “2024 problem”—the question of what will happen at the end of Putin’s current presidential term,” analysts at Eurasia Group said in a note late Wednesday.

“The planned changes to the constitution add to our conviction that Putin intends to step down as president in 2024. But by clipping the wings of his successor, Putin is providing scope for himself to retain influence for himself after he leaves office.”

“I would say that he’s (Putin’s) trying to ensure that no one ever comes in who is more powerful than he was,” Gina Sanchez, chief executive of Chantico Global, told CNBC’s Squawk Box Europe.

“So, he’s weakening the presidency. The Russian presidency is one of the strongest in the world that has powers that can be unchecked so he is creating these checks (on power), but in many ways he’s actually simply ensuring that, post his 2024 departure, that he can maintain a voice in the government and have a weak presidency that cannot overshadow that voice.”

“He’s weakening the presidency and no one can argue that that’s a bad reform, but he’s doing it for the purposes of ensuring his own legacy,” she added.

Medvedev the fall guy?

“You could argue that for the past eight years, Medvedev’s job description has been taking the blame,” Daragh McDowell, head of Europe and Principal Russia Analyst, Verisk Maplecroft, told CNBC Thursday.

“And this is the kind of ultimate accrual of that in him being pensioned off to a somewhat less influential position. There is a sense that Putin doesn’t really have much of an interest in domestic politics, particularly when we’re talking about the grind of rather unpopular domestic political issues, such as pension reform or reforming the somewhat stagnant economy. These aren’t as exciting issues like Syria or geopolitics.”

Jason Bush, Alex Brideau and Zachary Witlin, senior analysts at Eurasia Group, remarked in a note Wednesday Medvedev’s move out of the premiership “is not necessarily the demotion it appears at first glance,” however.

“If anything, Medvedev’s departure from the government gives him a chance to refurbish his image,” they said.

“The job of prime minister is a poisoned chalice: Medvedev was blamed by the public for unpopular domestic policies, such as 2018 reforms to the pension system. His new remit in the Security Council on defense and foreign affairs will present him to the public in a more positive light. At the very least, it looks like Medvedev is being given a chance to hone his qualifications to serve again as president.”

Who is Mishustin?

“Mishustin is an interesting guy,” Ariel Cohen, senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council, told CNBC Thursday.

“This is the first time Russia has not only an economist but a big data-based guy in charge. He ran the Russian tax authority and made it very, very efficient – one of the best in the world … He has a reputation as a modern, effective manager but not (a reputation) as a possible successor to Mr Putin.”

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) and Mikhail Mishustin, former head of the Russian Federal Tax Service, and now prime prime minister, during a meeting at Moscow’s Kremlin.

Alexei Nikolsky

“The proposed cabinet leader Mikhail Mishustin (independent) will likely focus on socioeconomic issues, which dominated President Vladimir Putin’s annual address … . In the near-term, Mishustin’s administration will likely get a popularity boost from multiple family-oriented social spending measures outlined by president,” Andrius Tursa, Central & Eastern Europe Advisor at Teneo Intelligence, said in a note.

“However, in the medium-term the new administration will face the difficult task of reviving the country’s stagnant economy and regaining public trust.”

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Taxi app Bolt backed by European Investment Bank to compete with Uber



Bolt CEO Markus Villig


Bolt, the European challenger to ride-hailing giant Uber, has secured 50 million euros ($56 million) in debt financing from the lending arm of the EU.

The European Investment Bank, or EIB, has invested in Bolt through a venture loan, which is used as an alternative to taking equity in a start-up to avoid diluting existing shareholders’ ownership.

Tallinn, Estonia-based Bolt is one of several firms looking to chip away at Uber’s dominance in the ride-hailing space. Founded in 2013, the firm was initially called Taxify but since changed its branding to offer more services like scooter sharing and food delivery. It currently has 30 million users in 150 cities across Europe and Africa.

The strategic financing from the EIB will help Bolt ramp up spending on research and development to make its services safer and more sustainable while also maintaining operational efficiency, Bolt and the EIB said in a joint statement Thursday.

That also means investing in Bolt’s main line of business, ride hailing, as well as food delivery, which it added to its platform last year. Both services are key to the company’s bid to take on Uber, its Silicon Valley competitor.

The battle between the two has heated up recently after Uber was blocked from operating in London by local transport regulators. The firm is still operating in the U.K. capital however as it appeals the decision.

The specific type of funding the EIB is granting Bolt is what’s known as a “quasi-equity” debt facility. According to the lender, the financial return of such loans is calculated as a percentage of a company’s future revenue streams, preventing equity dilution.

EIB Vice President Alexander Stubb called Bolt a “good example of European excellence in tech and innovation,” while Bolt CEO Markus Villig said the loan “enables us to move faster towards serving many more people in Europe.”

Counted among a growing class of “unicorn” companies — private tech firms with a valuation of $1 billion or more — Bolt is also in talks with investors for a new round of funding that would cement its unicorn status. Though it’s seeking more cash, Bolt’s Villig insists the company is in good financial health. The firm says it’s now profitable in two thirds of its global markets.

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