Apple has agreed to build three new manufacturing plants in the US, according to an interview between President Trump and the Wall Street Journal. In the interview, Trump told reporters that Apple agreed to build “three big plants, beautiful plants.” He gave no indication of when or where the plants would be built, or what they would manufacture.
The WSJ reported that during the interview, Trump said “I spoke to [Mr. Cook], he’s promised me three big plants—big, big, big. 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.”
It’s unclear if Apple is actually planning on setting up plants itself, or if this refers to Foxconn, Apple’s longterm manufacturing partner. Foxconn has been making noises about building plants in the US ever since Trump came to power, and has recently started narrowing down the list of possible locations.
Apple is unlikely to move a large part of its manufacturing to the US, regardless of what Trump says. Not only is it economically challenging, but the supply chain and logistics that Apple relies on is designed around Chinese manufacturing.
That said, Apple has already proved its willingness to work with administrations to keep its bottom line solid. Apple bowed to the demands of the Indian government and began producing the iPhone SE in small numbers in the country in May.
That deal could be a marker for what Apple’s deal with Trump could be. In return for Trump’s long-promised one-off tax break on repatriating overseas cash (of which Apple has nearly $300 billion), Foxconn/Apple could open up a few small manufacturing plants in the US producing complex or low-volume products, like top-end MacBooks, or the upcoming Mac Pro.