President Donald Trump has said several times that he wants Apple to manufacture iPhones and other products in the United States.
If Apple were to build phones in the United States, it would require the help of Foxconn, its primary manufacturing partner, which builds iPhones and other products in its factories in China.
Foxconn’s chairman suggested on Thursday that if Trump wants to see electronics made-in-America, he should be willing to open the government’s wallet and offer incentives and tax breaks.
“Does the U.S. offer incentive programs for foreign investors? They’ll need to pass bills first, and we’ll need to wait for American authorities to make a decision first,” Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said after a groundbreaking ceremony in China last week, according to Nikkei.
Gou suggested that rumored plans for Foxconn to build a $7 billion flat-panel screen factory in the U.S. will depend on governments addressing “investment issues.”
“I am concerned as to whether the U.S. can resolve all the investment issues in only a few months’ time,” he said.
Gou also said that the United States might not have the skilled labor or supply chain for high-tech manufacturing. Late Apple founder Steve Jobs used similar arguments when he told Barack Obama why Apple did not manufacture iPhones in the United States.
“No one is willing to see a trade war happen. I am not willing to choose between [the U.S. and China]. Why should I give up on any market?” Gou reportedly said.
Government subsidies are a core part of Foxconn’s business model
- Kin Cheung/AP
Foxconn isn’t shy about asking for government subsidies. The manufacturing giant receives billions of dollars in perks, tax breaks, and subsidies from China, The New York Times reported in December.
When Gou discussed the display panel factory, he suggested that Pennsylvania could offer incentives. “I have to tell other states to hurry up or we’ll go ahead and sign with Pennsylvania,” Gou said.
New York state has also reached out to Foxconn about possible incentives for a display plant, too.
Foxconn in 2013 pledged to hire 50,000 U.S. workers for a facility is Harrisberg, Pennsylvania, but the factory was never built, according to the Washington Post.
Nikkei reports that Gou said he had recently visited Washington D.C., but declined to comment on whether he met with Trump.
Apple likes to play down the possibility of assembling iPhones in the United States, but it says that parts built in the U.S. eventually make it into phones – 8,000 suppliers in 31 states provide parts and equipment for building iPhones and Macs, according to Apple.