Trump’s Capitalist Bash: Force Apple to Manufacture in the U.S.

| Analysis

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump unveiled a new plan should he win the election: make Apple to move all of its product manufacturing into the United States. Mr. Trump shared his idea during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech at Liberty University on Monday. So much for the capitalist spirit.

Donald Trump: I'll force Apple to make Macs & stuff in the U.S.Donald Trump: I'll force Apple to make Macs & stuff in the U.S.

Mr. Trump was pretty clear on his plan saying,

We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of other countries.

He also said he'll impose a 35 percent tax on any business producing its goods outside of the United States. Keep in mind Mr. Trump is the same man who said he wants to build a massive wall along the U.S. and Mexico border.

With that out of the way, let's break down what Mr. Trump said. First up, making Apple build its "damn computers and things" in the U.S.

Apple already builds the Mac Pro in the U.S., and has said it would like to bring more of its production into the country. The big problem Apple is facing now is a complete lack of in-country infrastructure to support its production needs.

The iPhone, for example, is built in Foxconn's factories in China—factories built like cities with thousands of employees working on highly tuned production lines geared to build products on the scale Apple and other companies need. Addressing that will require Mr. Trump to fundamentally change in-country production processes.

For Apple, and presumably every other U.S.-based electronics maker, to remain competitive, Mr. Trump would need to find a way to change production systems on a global level, too. Apple isn't the only company using overseas facilities to build its devices.

Next up is finding a way for companies to economically make their products in the U.S. Even without accounting for the lack of a production infrastructure in the country, it's proven to be far more economical to make products outside the U.S. and import them for sale.

In other words, it's logistically and economically unrealistic for Apple and other companies to mass produce in the United States. The country simply can't compete with China in that space.

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Lee Dronick

He could set an example by marrying native born women instead of importing them.


Starting to sound like the little european man with the moustache from the ‘30s.  Scary!


While I am agreement with the points made in this article; I think Trump should be given credit for bringing up the issue of America’s manufacturing shortfall. I am no great fan of Trump as I prefer a more conservative and libertarian approach; but the man has a point. The exodus of manufacturing jobs from this country is a national problem and Apple is definitely a part of the problem.

We can laud Apple for many things. With the resources at Apple’s control surely there is more the company can do as part of the solution. I don’t think that Apple and other American companies should go on taking advantage of working people in other countries so that they can pad their profit margins. It is good that Trump is calling them out on this regardless of the threats attached. Perhaps the only solution is that the standard of living will rise abroad as ours levels or falls. Then these companies might find it rewarding to bring these jobs home.

I would think a company with a social conscience would do something about the problem before that takes place.

Old UNIX Guy

I refuse to engage in any conversations about “Donald Trump.”  I will only agree to talk about him when he is referred to as “that delusional egomaniac with the laughable combover.”


I agree, skipaq. It is a national problem. Apple is a part of it, but in reality Apple is one of the few who could deal with the “bring it back or pay 35%” proposal. Many other companies would go bankrupt trying.

Of course, it would have to be applied fairly to work, and it would drive up pricing significantly across the board, whether they actually do bring it back or simply pay the tax. Sad thing is, most would probably pay the tax, as a 35% tax is a no brainer when the labor cost impact would be, I would guess, in the range of a 300%-500% difference. So, in the end, any tax increase would simply be passed onto the consumer, causing people to hold onto iPhones and Samsung phones longer, causing the smart phone market to stagnate, competition will fail and go bankrupt since only Apple and Samsung are making money right now, and the likes of Microsoft, Nokia, etc. would no longer even market in the US since their pitiful market share is so small there are no economies of scale. Barriers to entry will increase given the higher costs or requirements to mfg in the US. Trump would be better off putting people to work on the Mexico wall than to force manufacturing back.

Lee Dronick

I have been saying this for several years, we may not have a choice but to move manufacturing out of China and if not here then someplace else. Hopefully I am wrong with my prediction, but I have concerns about the situation in the South China Sea.


I grew up in and around Lowell, MA. Went to school there and also spent most of my life working there. This was an area that at one time was considered the technological and manufacturing hub of the American Industrial Revolution because of textiles. I worked in some of those mills near the end of their existence. I know many of the families of the capitalists who owned those mills.

I watched them move textile manufacturing to the South, then to South America and today the Far East. They didn’t move because of a lack of infrastructure or skilled labor. They moved because of tax, regulation and cost of labor advantages in other places. There is no question that tax, regulatory and labor costs are the reasons manufacturing of computers and other high tech items are made in China along with our shirts, pants and other things.

The US government (including our president) can do something about the tax and regulatory issues so that we are competing fairly. A friend of mine lost her manufacturing job with Cummins recently because they moved to Mexico. There is an empty plant and jobless skilled workers in the US as a result. Cummins didn’t lack infrastructure or skill labor; but Mexico offered tax and regulatory relief. Cummins builds new plant and trains Mexican workers then sells those Diesel engines to run the trucks in the US. That is a political problem and not an infrastructure or labor problem.

Like him or hate him what Trump said is pure populist political speech that is hardly ever uttered by Republicans. It is the kind of speech one expects from Sanders. It is the kind of speech that will surely upset Wall Street.


Says the businessman who’s clothing line is made outside the USA. Hypocrite.




Is the man a clown? Yes, but Obama thinking everyone learning to code is a solution is equally ludicrous. Manufacturing and the jobs it engenders hasn’t disappeared from the face of the earth as some would have us believe, it’s just disappeared from the United States where people are required to be paid a fair wage.

Adjustments could be made within companies (*cough*uppermanagementsalaries*cough*) to keep costs down for consumers, if they were willing. Apple could employ people and easily pay them good wages, and their profits would likely remain stable. They could also pay their taxes! wink


Trump’s history of capitalism has included eminent domain abuse, screwing small-time investors during his bankruptcies (while he got to walk away without losing a dime and develop other properties), and in general padding his bank accounts over the years by cutting deals with crooked liberal politicians after donating millions to their campaigns. And let’s not forget that he’s hired thousands of immigrants for cheap labor!

Hypocrisy at its finest. So no, I don’t take him seriously in the least on what he thinks any other corporation ought to be doing.


“It also looks like Mr. Trump, the business man behind several hotels and casinos,”

You should probably say “It also looks like Mr. Trump, the business man behind several _failed_ hotels and casinos,”  This kind of egotistical thinking is what drove all those hotels and casinos into bankruptcy.


@Jamie Astute point on Apple’s motives for squirreling big chunks of profits in tax friendly Ireland. Anyone can see the politically instigated decision.

Those who criticize Trump’s casino bankruptcies out of non-hypocritical consistency were surely critical of the GM bankruptcy and all the political shenanigans bringing it about. They surely were as critical of the politics involved in “saving those too big to fail Wall ST banks” from bankruptcy while the thousands of small businesses and individuals they ruined were left out to hang in those bankruptcy proceedings.

Trump has been all over China for its’ financial and political practices that have hurt the American worker big time. Apple makes nearly all their physical products in China. I say it would have been hypocritical for Trump to dump on China without calling Apple out for sharing in this worker rip off.

Lee Dronick

See this article about manufacturing in the United States and China, the product quality. It mentions Apple:


Indeed, WestcoastBob, he sounds like Hitler. Trump is a very worrying phenomenon, yet for those of us in Europe, he seems to be garnering an incredible amount of support in the USA, with his nonsense about access to fireams, building walls, and reaction to immigration. Heck, most of you Americans are immigrants, even if the immigration you stem from dates from a couple of centuries back, so what’s wrong with immigrants? If you look at areas such as art, business, and science, where would you be without immigrants? And to purport that allowing everyone to walk around with guns is going to solve anything seems to be simply catering to the most base elements of your society. Quite honestly, I am more worried about Trump becoming the president of the USA than I am about a few miscreant immigrants.


Bashing Trump is too easy. But, his point is valid - maybe not his solution but his POINT is valid. We need to get big rich USA companies to make their stuff in the USA, period. Just because “business” has no morals or ethics doesn’t mean you HAVE to put crazy profit margins as Apple has over the needs of THIS country. I don’t buy that ridiculous “infrastructure” baloney argument - that’s just weak. If Elon can make Teslas here, Apple can make ALL their stuff and things here, too.  Well, China will be happy as they no doubt will build the Apple Car. (Even Elon is going to make Tesla’s there, and maybe in Europe too but then again NO USA car brands are strictly made in the US anymore either and that is sick as well. You know, Trump wants to build that wall to keep the Mexicans IN Cali, because latest stats show more are LEAVING than coming in - no doubt to work at those Mexican GM, FCA, Ford, Nissan, Audi, VW etc factories that produce more cars than any other north American country.  Sad, sad…and Apple is no better.


We all know Trump is a blowhard, but this topic exposes so many problems with our nation’s institutions.  A quick recap, many of which have been mentioned by others in this thread already:
1. US Politics - it takes an outsider to bring up the long overlooked issue of the loss of manufacturing capabilities in the US - not just jobs but also infrastructure, experience and education - a serious issue that has been dragging this country down for decades that the vast majority of politicians pay little more than lip service to. 
2. Education system - our higher education system costs too much to teach skills that often have little value in the workplace.
3. Tax code - Whether it’s Trump or Tim Cook, one remedy to our nation’s ongoing debt issue isn’t whether to raise taxes but to collect the taxes you are rightfully owed.  And if companies are getting around paying taxes, fix the tax code to close those loopholes while also encouraging businesses to do business in the US.

Trump keeps pressing hot button issues and getting people mobilized that other politicians either avoid or talk up during their campaigns (always preaching to the beliefs of their base) and then doing nothing about when they are in office.


Without delving too much into what an idiot, blowhard “politician” who can’t win says, one has to consider what else will happen if the US changes policies. I’m all for American manufacturing, but if we raise tariffs in order to do it, other countries will raise their tariffs on American goods, diminishing much of America’s exports. There are balance of trade issues, and those manufacturers still in the US may move their operations and HQ to a country without such restrictions, so they can continue to sell to the rest of the world, which may well be the greater part of their business.


Never for a minute should we consider countries that manufacture our Apple products “lesser” countries.  They have many brilliant people and they know we have given up manufacturing capabilities so they can employ their populace.  America has unemployed populace; we also have capable people who can bring back manufacturing to our country to employ our unemployed.  We have an unemployment problem in USA because we have exported manufacturing to “lesser”—actually countries that want their people working to produce something.  We need to be able to produce things—not just ideas.  Economics 101:  sell finished products. Apple has developed green power supplies.  Besides just storing cloud data, we could use this green power know how to manufacture products. 

Tony Emmett

Agreed Mr Trump. Hopefully that will mean you will also do your property investment only in the US and not harass Scottish farmers to sell their land to you for leisure developments…..

Alex Santos

I don’t know where this man belongs or came from.


The Donald didn’t do his reading assignment. There’s a story about Steve Jobs pulling a prototype iPhone out of his pocket with a scratched screen six weeks before product launch. He told his team to fix it. Now.

They had already looked at Corning Gorilla Glass, but it would have taken weeks to get sample glass parts and months for Corning to get a development team, assembly line and workers to make a low volume of these items.

Meanwhile, the team was on a jet to China. When they arrived, they had created several Gorilla Glass samples to look at, rousted thousands of laborers out of bed, set them up on an assembly line and started making 10,000 of these things a day.

That’s why manufacturing isn’t in the U.S. A Foxconn factory in China can hire 3,000 qualified workers in a day and get them cranking out millions of items in no time. Where can you do that in the U.S.? It would take six months to a year for any company to hire 3,000 qualified people to do anything.

However, manufacturing will return to the U.S. and robots will be doing it.

Educated Gentleman

Tough break for Apple.  Trump wants them to stop exploiting foreign labor to make their billions in profits domestically… Bernie just wants to tax them 90%.

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