Foxconn gives Trump’s jobs vow a shot in the arm with multibillion dollar investment in Michigan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 12:18am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 11:33pm

Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of consumer electronics, said it’s planning a multibillion dollar investment in the US state of Michigan, a week after announcing a US$10 billion plant in Wisconsin, giving a shot in the arm to Donald Trump’s election pledge to lure investments and create jobs for Americans.

The new investment will be engaged in the research and development of vehicles that can drive autonomously, said Terry Gou, founder of the Taiwanese company, on Saturday in Shenzhen.

Read: Foxconn may follow, if Trump US tech firms back to America

“Automotive development in the US is still more advanced than China,” said Gou, declining to divulge the investment amount for Michigan. “Besides self-driving technology, I’m also interested in artificial intelligence and deep learning technology.”

Foxconn’s Wisconsin plant will assemble liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, with an operation that creates 3,000 jobs, and with the potential to expand to 13,000 jobs over four years.

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The Taiwanese company, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., could triple its investment to US$30 billion eventually, Trump had said earlier without elaborating on details.

“The amount of investment has not been confirmed,” Gou said, when asked about his company’s potential investment in the United States where Gou said he prefers the middle states and western territories.

Michigan, in the US mid west, is home to Detroit, the heart of the US automotive industry, where General Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Corp have their headquarters.

Founded in 1974, Foxconn is the world’s largest electronics manufacturer, and has been an assembler of computers for Dell, as well as iPhones and iPads for Apple Inc. For many years, it’s based its assemblies in low-wage countries such as China, putting together gadgets that eventually are distributed and sold in the US and Europe.

Read: Why America may prove a cheaper option than China for Foxconn

With tax incentives and subsidies by US states desperate for Foxconn’s investments, setting up plants in America may turn out to be cheaper than producing in China, where manufacturing is increasingly hobbled by rising wages and scarcity of trained labour. It’s also a fillip to the Trump administration’s “America First” mantra.

Foxconn hasn’t been alone. Toyota and Mazda said this week they will jointly build a US$1.6 billion assembly with the capacity to produce 300,000 electric self-driving cars and create up to 4,000 jobs.

Read: Warning for China as electronics giant Foxconn plugs into US incentives

The commitment by the Taiwan company, which operates at least half a dozen facilities in mainland China with close to 1 million workers on staff, does not mean Foxconn will reduce its investments in China, Gou said.

“We will take advantage of different regions to develop our business,” he said. “An increase in investment in the US does not necessarily mean a reduction in investment in China.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated Foxconn’s Wisconsin plant would have the potential to expand to 130,000 jobs over four years. This figure has been amended to 13,000.