Taiwan Tech Giant May Open US LCD Plant In Response To Trump’s “Make In America” Call

While so far various international and domestic companies have announced, grudginly, they would expand production in the US, and hire US workers, after being called out by president-elect Trump on his  favorite “bully pulpit”, Twitter, on Friday the push for insourcing took on an unsolicited twist, when Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as iPhone maker FoxConn, and one of the largest employers in the world, and its Japanese subsidiary Sharp, have begun studying the possibility of building an LCD panel plant in the U.S., a Sharp executive said Friday cited by Nikkei.

The Taiwanese electronics contract manufacturer, and its Japanese alliance partner SoftBank Group reportedly told Donald Trump they would jointly make significant investments creating new jobs in the U.S. when SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son met the President-elect in New York last month according to the Japanese paper.

The joint investment plan was proposed by Son, the Sharp executive said, and was put ‘on the table’ in response to Trump’s ‘Make in America’ call.

While it was reported before that Foxconn may consider making iPhones in the US, that speculation was at a very preliminary stage, with nothing definitive confirmed. It also took place prior to the diplomatic fiasco following Trump’s statement that the “one China” policy is negotiable.

Whether this is “gratitude” by Foxconn exces to Trump for siding with the small island is unknown. Officially, with Trump urging American manufacturers to bring operations back to the U.S., Hon Hai is considering production in the U.S. due to its huge market for TVs and other home appliances.

In late December, an LCD panel maker jointly owned by Hon Hai and Sharp announced it would build one of the world’s largest panel plants for LCD TVs in Guangzhou, China. The plant is to be jointly built with the local government at a cost of around 1 trillion yen ($8.69 billion) and is scheduled for completion in autumn 2018.

Details of the possible new U.S. plant, including the amount of investment and the date for the launch of operations, have yet to be decided. But people familiar with the plan said approximately the same amount may be spent on the U.S. project as it would entail the construction of a similar facility to to the one in Guangzhou.

Foxconn and Apple both have manufacturing facilities on a very small scale in the U.S., but the newly discussed facility by Foxconn and Sharp would be notably larger. Currently, Foxconn has plants in Virginia and Indiana, along with logistic locations in California and Texas.

As reported previously, Hon Hai, a major producer for Apple, is also considering producing iPhones in the U.S. As an incentive, Donald Trump in November told Tim Cook that he would offer the company a “very large tax cut” to make its products in the U.S. Cook was said to have remained largely neutral on the subject during his call with Trump, later pointing out that one of the major reasons Apple’s manufacturing is so heavily centered in China is due to the country’s large number of individuals with the required “vocational kind of skills.”


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