Donald Trump thinks it’s time for Apple to start manufacturing its products in the United States, and told CEO Tim Cook as much. Mr. Trump said Mr. Cook called him, and that he wants to give companies like Apple big tax breaks and remove industry regulations to get new factories in the country. That’s a pretty big dream considering the U.S. hasn’t ever had the production capacity to meet Apple’s needs.
In an New York Times interview, Mr. Trump—the President Elect of the United States—said he got phone calls from both Tim Cook and Bill Gates earlier this week. Apple, Microsoft, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation chose not to comment on whether or not the calls took place, or who may have initiated them if they did.
Mr. Trump told the New York Times,
I was honored yesterday, I got a call from Bill Gates, great call, we had a great conversation, I got a call from Tim Cook at Apple, and I said, ‘Tim, you know one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States, where instead of going to China, and going to Vietnam, and going to the places that you go to, you’re making your product right here.’ He said, ‘I understand that.’
He went on to say his administration would use tax breaks to get Apple’s manufacturing in the United States. Mr. Trump told reporters he said, “I think we’ll create the incentives for you, and I think you’re going to do it. We’re going for a very large tax cut for corporations, which you’ll be happy about.”
It’s hard to see big tax breaks for corporations sitting well with Congress considering the sentiment that companies are gaming the system to avoid paying their fair share. Giving companies a way to pay even lower taxes ultimately translates into less money for the government—something law makers have been trying to stop, at least under President Obama’s administration.
Trump Wants Apple Factories
Getting companies to bring their manufacturing into the U.S. will take more than tax breaks in Mr. Trump’s estimation. He says Apple and other corporations shouldn’t be shackled by industry regulations.
“But we’re going for big tax cuts, we have to get rid of regulations, regulations are making it impossible. Whether you’re liberal or conservative, I mean I could sit down and show you regulations that anybody would agree are ridiculous,” he said. “It’s gotten to be a free-for-all. And companies can’t, they can’t even start up, they can’t expand, they’re choking.”
In other words, what we need to bring big-time manufacturing into the U.S. are massive tax cuts for corporations and greatly scaled back industry regulations. That doesn’t, however, take into account that the U.S. doesn’t have—and never has had—the infrastructure to produce on the same scale as China.
Foxconn’s Chinese factories where iPhones, iPads, and a long list of other devices from Apple and its competitors are made employ thousands of workers. The infrastructure to support the work force needed to build iPhones on the scale Apple needs requires what amounts to a city of workers, and that’s what Foxconn built. Its factories are essentially towns with living quarters, places to eat, activities, and other services a community needs.
The thousands of workers Foxconn employs to manufacture the electronic devices we want simply aren’t available in the U.S., and the days of company towns are long gone. This isn’t a matter of bringing jobs back to the country; it’s about creating a manufacturing system that never existed here. Tax cuts and industry deregulation won’t change that.
Apple already manufactures some of its products in the States, albiet on a small scale. It’s possible we could see more Apple production in the U.S., but don’t count on seeing Foxconn’s factories in China close down so all iPhones can be made here, no matter what Mr. Trump wants.