Could Apple-supplier Foxconn open a plant in the US?

A new report alleges that Foxconn, the Taiwanese tech manufacturer that builds parts for Apple iPads and iPhones, is eyeing the US. 

Kin Cheung/AP/File
Staff members work on the production line at the Foxconn complex in Shenzhen, China.

Taiwanese tech manufacturer Foxconn could open a series of plants in the US. 

That's the word today from DigiTimes, which reports that Foxconn, a major supplier to Apple and other tech giants, is already conducting "evaluations" in Los Angeles and Detroit. Some caveats: DigiTimes sourced its article only to anonymous "market watchers," and Foxconn isn't saying a word. Furthermore, DigiTimes, while exceptionally well plugged-in to the tech industry in Asia, has a less than stellar track record. 

To quote Henry McCracken of Time, who recently fact-checked a bunch of DigiTimes dispatches, "when it comes to the big Apple stories, [DigiTimes is] wrong most of the time. Sometimes wildly so." 

Still, this rumor is worth watching, if only for the stakes involved: A Foxconn plant in the US would be very big news indeed. The Taiwan company has repeatedly come under fire for alleged labor violations – and since Apple relies so heavily on Foxconn, it has come under fire, too. (At the third presidential debate, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney specifically discussed how to get Apple to bring its manufacturing to the US.) 

A Foxconn plant in the US would presumably be more assiduously monitored than its counterparts in China and Taiwan; American Foxconn workers, meanwhile, would be paid far more than employees at plants in Asia. This, of course, is also reason to doubt the rumor: Foxconn and its customers rely on cheap labor in order to keep their profit margins high

In related news, Foxconn chairman Terry Gou recently told reporters that demand for the iPhone was outstripping supplies. 

"It's not easy to make the iPhones. We are falling short of meeting the huge demand," Gou said, according to Reuters. 

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