By Roger Fingas
Wednesday, December 07, 2016, 06:02 am PT (09:02 am ET)
Apple’s primary assembly partner, Foxconn, will soon invest in expanding its U.S. operations, the latter company said on Wednesday, apparently following in the steps of a similar SoftBank announcement.
“While the scope of the potential investment has not been determined, we will announce the details of any plans following the completion of direct discussions between our leadership and the relevant U.S. officials,” Foxconn explained in a statement to Bloomberg. “Those plans would be made based on mutually-agreed terms.”
Although Foxconn didn’t provide specifics, a document held up by SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son after meeting with U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump allegedly included the words “Foxconn,” “$7 billion,” and “50,000 new jobs.” SoftBank is investing $50 billion in the U.S. and aiming to create 50,000 jobs.
It’s unclear if Trump was involved in negotiating a Foxconn deal, but during his presidential campaign he openly criticized Apple and claimed he would make the company move production back to the U.S. Foxconn is based out of Taiwan and runs most of its factories in China. Only one Apple product —the Mac Pro —is assembled in the U.S., and that computer has gone three years without an upgrade.
Establishing serious production in the U.S. would be a difficult prospect for Foxconn. Aside from the fact that most parts suppliers are overseas, complicating logistics, operating in the U.S. is substantially more expensive because of higher safety, labor, and environmental standards. The decline of American manufacturing would also mean having to train many workers. The company could potentially get around some of these problems if it leans heavily on robots.