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Apple's main manufacturing partner, Foxconn, is considering the possibility of a $7 billion joint investment in an automated display production facility in the U.S., the latter company's chairman said on Sunday.
"Apple is willing to invest in the facility together because they need the [panels] as well," Terry Gou told the press following a year-end party in Taiwan, according to Nikkei. The proposed facility, first rumored earlier this month, would allegedly create between 30,000 and 50,000 jobs.
Although U.S. electronics manufacturing is typically more expensive — due to currency values, and higher labor and operational costs — Gou claimed that growing demand for bigger display panels makes U.S. production a better option than importing parts from China.
Foxconn is also said to be planning a new molding plant in the U.S., with Pennsylvania being a possible target in the wake of investment talks with the state. In fact, a representative from Pennsylvania's trade office is said to have attended Sunday's party.
The decision to increase U.S. manufacturing is potentially a response to President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise of growing domestic jobs, and has threatened to renegotiate NAFTA as well as make it expensive to import Chinese goods. Gou noted that a Canadian interactive display company, Smart Technologies, could be relocated to the U.S. because of Trump's NAFTA plans.
He urged the U.S. government to offer concessions on land and electricity to encourage manufacturing, warning that products could otherwise become unaffordably expensive.
"In the future they [shoppers] may be paying some $500 more for products, but those do not necessarily work better than a $300 phone," he said.
Trump has claimed that Apple CEO Tim Cook could bring iPhone manufacturing to the U.S., perhaps lured by the promised of a "very large tax cut" for relocating jobs. In November Nikkei said that Apple had asked Foxconn to consider the possibility.
Gou commented however that Foxconn will continue expanding in China. One such effort is believed to be an Apple prototype facility located in Shenzhen.