As President-elect Donald Trump threatens a new, more restrictive trade policy and tries to cajole companies like Apple to build their products in the US, many of Asia’s top manufacturers are now seriously considering US manufacturing.
Sharp, a Japanese company recently purchased by Foxconn, Apple’s top manufacturing partner, is considering building a screen factory in the US, Nikkei reported on Friday.
One executive told Nikkei the plan was “on the table” and the company would “make a decision carefully.”
The factory would most likely be used to manufacture LCD screens for TVs and other home appliances, not the tiny, high-density screens that Apple uses or the next-gen OLED screens that Apple is eyeing for its next iPhone.
The potential scale of the facility is huge – it could be as big as a recent plant constructed in Guangzhou, China, that cost $8.7 billion.
Foxconn is an investor in Softbank’s $100 billion Vision Fund. Softbank’s CEO told Trump that investments in the fund could create US jobs, but on Thursday it was reported that most of the money would most likely be used to “grab a piece of an undervalued technology company trading on the stock exchange” or to do a private-equity deal.
Apple reportedly asked Foxconn to explore making iPhones in the US. But the plan would be likely to significantly increase manufacturing costs, partially because many of the parts suppliers are based in Asia.
US-based factories would also most likely use more automation than factories in Asia because of the higher cost of labor.
Apple manufactures nearly all of its products in Asia, with the exception of the low-volume Mac Pro, which is assembled in Texas, and some iMacs that are built in Ireland.
Apple also owns a former manufacturing facility in Arizona currently being used as a data center that recently applied for special import-export manufacturing status.