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White House touts Foxconn plant in Wisconsin as latest economic win


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The Taiwanese manufacturer best known for making Apple’s iPhones in China will invest $10 billion to open a new plant in Wisconsin, the White House announced Wednesday while claiming another win for President Donald Trump’s bid to revive America’s flagging industrial sector.

The move by Foxconn is politically potent for Trump, who has pressed companies to invest in the U.S. heartland after years of jobs migrating overseas. The location also has strategic value: Wisconsin is a swing state that went for Trump in 2016 despite backing Democratic presidential candidates in recent decades.

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“This is a great day for American workers and manufacturing and everyone who believes in the concept and label of ‘Made in the USA,'” Trump said at a White House event alongside Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, and Speaker Paul Ryan.

“Chairman Gou put his faith and confidence in the future of the American economy,” Trump continued as he took credit for the investment. “In other words, if I didn’t get elected he definitely would not be spending $10 billion.”

But it might not come cheap: The deal to lure the company will include a $3 billion package of economic incentives, Walker said at the White House event. He didn’t specify what kind of incentives — whether cash, tax breaks or infrastructure improvements — that would involve.

While Foxconn is known as an iPhone supplier, its Wisconsin plant will produce liquid crystal display monitors for computers, televisions and vehicles. The plant is expected to create 3,000 jobs at the outset, with the potential to reach 13,000 jobs over time, according to Trump.

A senior White House official attributed the Foxconn investment to the company’s “confidence” in the Trump administration’s business policies, including its efforts to roll back regulations and enact tax reform. The prospects for a tax overhaul, however, remain unclear as Trump has secured few legislative victories during his first months in office.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Ryan — two of Washington’s most prominent Wisconsinites — were involved in the effort. But the White House official said political calculations weren’t a factor in Wisconsin’s selection. The administration facilitated meetings between Foxconn and representatives from several states, and ultimately the company chose “a state in which they could be successful,” the official said.

This is not the first time Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, has looked to expand its U.S. footprint. In 2013, reports indicated the company planned to build a $30 million facility and create 500 jobs in Harrisburg, Pa. Those plans never materialized.

On the campaign trail and since taking office, Trump has publicly rebuked major corporations that manufacture products overseas and then sell them to American consumers. He has threatened to impose a border tax and other financial penalties on firms if they don’t build in America.

To curry favor with Trump, companies including General Motors, Ford and Intel trumpeted their U.S. investment plans in the early days of the administration. Though those plans had already been in the works prior to the election, Trump pointed to many of them as signs of confidence in his policies.

Foxconn maintains deep investment ties to Japan-based Softbank, which earned its own praise from Trump in December when it pledged to invest $50 billion in the U.S. The two companies created a joint investment venture in February, and it’s unclear whether the Wisconsin plant will be funded through that arrangement.

Trump also told The Wall Street Journal this week that Apple had committed to building three “big, big, big” plants in the U.S. Apple declined to comment.

Officials from Foxconn met several times with representatives from the White House’s Office of American Innovation in recent months, the White House official said. That office, spearheaded by Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, has become the administration’s main conduit for engaging technology companies and other industry leaders.

Foxconn has faced criticism from workers and human rights groups for the conditions in its Chinese factories, where media outlets have reported that workers must put in overtime for little pay.


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