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Tim Cook says Apple ‘didn’t come to Ireland for tax,’ talks canceled data center in new interview

Tim Cook has spent much of the last week traveling through Europe, with stops in Ireland, Amsterdam, and more. In a fresh interview with the Irish Times, Cook was asked about Apple’s controversial tax relationship with Ireland, its decision to cancel plans for a massive new data center in the country, and more…

Cook explained that Apple is still fully committed to Ireland, despite indications that its efforts there have gone downhill over the last year. He said that Apple didn’t come to Ireland specifically for the tax benefits, but rather it saw a “community we thought we could grow” and help improve:

We are committed. Honestly speaking, we didn’t come to Ireland for tax. We came to Ireland in 1980 because we saw a community we thought we could grow, and could do a number of things to support the continent.

We’ve stayed on course on that over almost four decades. It hasn’t been a straight line – life isn’t a straight line, things go up and down – but it’s always been in a trajectory that is increasing. I don’t anticipate that changing.

The Apple CEO also boasted the company’s relationship with developers in Ireland, saying there are currently 17,000 app developers in the country and that Apple has paid out €20 billion to European developers as a whole. He also said Apple has more than 300 suppliers in Ireland.

Last month, Apple was forced to abandon plans for a $1 billion data center in Athenry due to extended regulatory delays and backlash from some citizens. Cook said that Apple is disappointed by the struggles it faced as he thinks the company could have “made a lot of friends” in the town:

“We loved the community there. Fortunately we had great support from the community who wanted us there. That’s probably the biggest disappointment from our point of view; we felt we could have been in the community and made a lot of friends like we had in Cork and grown the relationship over time,” Cook said. “But we understand and respect the process.”

As for Apple’s future in Ireland, Cook said that if rules changed, the company could reconsider its plans for the data center and more. “If the rules changed – we don’t plan on stopping growing – and things may come back around at some point in time,” said Cook.

Earlier this week, Cook addressed family border separations while speaking to the Irish Times, calling them “inhumane.” Today’s piece includes a bit more color around Cook’s stance on a trade war between the U.S. and China, as well as globalization in general:

These arrangements between countries are very complex. All sides could probably conclude that they need to be updated over time, because things do change, but I’m a big believer that free trade is a key part in what has lifted the world.

I’m also a believer that in some cases globalisation has hurt people in some countries. I think we all need to focus on how to help those people also benefit. But I don’t believe creating an issue on the other side helps these, I just think more people are being hurt, so to speak. So I’m hoping for a quick resolution.

The full interview can be read at the Irish Times right here.

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