A piece in the WSJ outlines why president-elect Trump’s campaign promise to ‘get Apple to start making their computers and their iPhones on our land, not in China’ is impractical.

Tim Cook has previously said that the vocational skills needed for Apple manufacturing simply don’t exist in the USA, and suppliers have emphasised the sheer scale of the challenge.

When Jabil Circuit, the world’s third-largest contract manufacturer by revenue, needed to quickly ramp up production of its electronics components a few years ago, the company was able to add 35,000 workers in China in less than six weeks.

“In no other country can you scale up so quickly,” said John Dulchinos, vice president of digital manufacturing.”

Even if Apple were to appoint American companies as suppliers, that wouldn’t necessarily create U.S. jobs, argues the piece …

U.S. electronics companies often outsource production, so they don’t always have full control over where their goods are made [and] some manufacturing jobs done in China with human labor could be lost to machines if production moves back to the U.S., economists warn.

Although it’s widely assumed that Apple manufactures products in China to save money, an analysis earlier this year showed that moving production to the USA wouldn’t actually cost dramatically more, adding only $30-40 to the cost of an iPhone, for example. The issue is availability of the right skills.

Apple said that it generates large-scale employment in the USA.

Apple said it has created over 2 million jobs in the U.S. for engineers, retail and call-center employees and delivery drivers. The company said it works with more than 8,000 suppliers in the U.S. and is “investing heavily in American jobs and innovation.”

This is not the first time this week that the practicality of Trump’s campaign promises regarding Chinese manufacturing have been questioned. On Monday, the Chinese government warned that iPhone sales ‘will suffer‘ if Trump goes ahead with his threatened imposition of 45% tariffs on Chinese imports.

Photo: AP

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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