Intel CEO Bob Swan on China: A ‘big market for us’ that has ‘slowed quite a bit’

When China reported sluggish economic growth nearly two weeks ago, President Donald Trump celebrated the news as proof his tariff policy has worked. But one American tech CEO suggested that China’s economic pain has become his own.

In an interview last month, Intel (INTC) CEO Bob Swan said the chip maker continues to view China as a “big market” even if it has “slowed quite a bit.”

“We saw a slowing of demand on both the cloud enterprise and PC front in the first three months of this year,” he added.

China’s GDP growth slipped to 6.2% for the quarter that ended in June. It amounted to the country’s slowest economic growth in almost three decades, falling below the prior quarter’s growth of 6.4%.

Intel CEO Bob Swan appears on Influencers with Andy Serwer.

Swan said the tariffs have not only affected Chinese demand for Intel’s products but also the means by which the company supplies those products.

“It's a market that has been very important to us over the years,” Swan said of the country of 1.5 billion people. “Both the market itself but also the role that it plays in terms of global supply chain.”

Swan made the comments to Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a conversation that aired on Yahoo Finance in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

“The dynamics of tariffs impact the flow of goods,” Swan added. “So we've had to work with our customers in light of this situation.”

The chip industry has slowed, with the research firm Gartner projecting a 9.6% drop in global semiconductor revenue in 2019, at $419 billion. But tariff threats between U.S. and China actually added $400 million to Intel’s second quarter sales because customers were worried about supply risks in the latter half of the year, company executives told Reuters.

On Thursday, Intel reported second-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ expectations on both the top and bottom line. The company also said it had agreed to sell much of its smartphone modem business to Apple (AAPL) for $1 billion.

Donovan Russo is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him @Donovanxrusso.

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