One of the things that President Donald Trump had promised during his campaign, and has been pushing for since he took office, is to bring manufacturing back to the US. President Trump was quoted this week speaking about Apple's plans to bring some manufacturing operations back to the US. President Trump indicated, "I spoke to (Cook), he's promised me three big plants, three big plants, beautiful plants."
This isn't the first time that we have heard Apple and its supply chain partners were eyeing bring some manufacturing back to the US. In January of this year, we talked about Foxconn and Apple eyeing a $7 billion display factory in the US that had the potential to employ 50,000 Americans. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou said at the time, "Apple is willing to invest in the facility together because they need the [panels] as well."
While President Trump didn't go into any detail on where the three Apple factories might be located, Foxconn was eyeing investments in Pennsylvania, a state hit hard by job losses. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in May that Apple intends to create a fund with $1 billion in it meant solely for investing in US companies that are involved in advanced manufacturing operations. That massive fund would also be used to teach job seekers how to create apps and write code.
Apple was a target for Trump during his campaign because most of the manufacturing operations for products the companys sells in the US are based in China. Foxconn's Gou did have warnings for American consumers when it comes to moving manufacturing back to the US. Gou said in January, "In the future they [American consumers] may be paying some $500 more for [U.S.] products, but those do not necessarily work better than a $300 phone." Such is the cost of putting Americans to work and bringing more operations back to the US.
Apple hasn't yet confirmed President Trump's statement on three new plants in the US. As of now Apple only manufactures Mac Pros in the US. Also worth noting is that Apple doesn't typically build its own products, instead preferring to partner with supply chain manufacturers like Foxconn that build their own factories and build products for Apple. It's thought to be more likely that Trump's promise that Apple is building three new factories in the US actually means Apple's partners will be building these factories, possibly with Apple investment in the locations.
Foxconn certainly has eyes on US-based manufacturing and Apple invested in Corning, the company making cover glass for the iPhone, to the tune of $200 million in May. Corning has a US manufacturing plant in Kentucky. Trump didn't make any distinction between Apple building factories or its partners, and that is an important distinction to some. Trump was quoted by the WSJ saying, "I said you know, Tim, unless you start building your plants in this country, I won’t consider my administration an economic success. He called me, and he said they are going forward." Perhaps Trump sees no distinction in Apple building the products in the US or its partners building them here; as long as manufacturing comes back to the US perhaps that distinction isn't that important.