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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

November 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Report: Foxconn mulling U.S. factories, but not for Apple

Chinese manufacturing giant Foxconn – known particularly for its vast and controversial factories churning out iPhones and other gadgets – is considering opening factories in U.S. cities such as Detroit and Los Angeles.

That’s according to a report in DigiTimes, a Taiwanese trade publication that often breaks sensational stories about the tech industry but is sometimes misled by its sources.

Foxconn opening U.S. factories could ease political concerns about Apple and other electronics companies creating most of their new employment overseas, in immense factories with cheap labor and working conditions far below those in developed countries.

Similar moves were made over the last decade by Indian information-technology vendors in response to U.S. concerns about jobs lost to outsourcing. Industry leaders such as Infosys and Wipro opened satellite facilities in the U.S. that created some jobs here – though not on the same scale as in India – and also gave them offices closer to their customers’ headquarters.

Foxconn is planning a training program that will send U.S. engineers to China or Taiwan to learn Chinese and manufacturing processes, the report said.

The DigiTimes report said Apple gadget manufacturing would likely remain in China because it is “rather complicated.” The U.S. factories would produce “easier” things like TV sets.

That part sounds bogus. Factory workers in Los Angeles produce even more complicated products, such military aircraft and robotic space vehicles.

Perhaps certain customers don’t want to pay the higher cost of domestic gadget production, or they prefer the flexibility offered by China’s more lax labor and environmental regulations.

Comments | Topics: apple, foxconn, manufacturing

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