Foxconn U-turns on $10bn Wisconsin factory after call with Trump

What is Foxconn

What is Foxconn

Foxconn had promised Wisconsin officials that the plant would create 13,000 jobs, majority low-skilled and on the factory floor.

Foxconn Technology Group said Friday it will go ahead with plans to manufacture liquid-crystal displays in Wisconsin after an intervention from President Donald Trump.

How a Foxconn factory in Wisconsin takes shape depends on what day of the week it is.

Speaking to thousands of Foxconn employees at a Lunar New Year celebration in Taipei yesterday, Gou said investing in the U.S. "is undoubtedly a right decision and fits with future economic trends". Evers tells reporters that the company needs to improve its messaging and transparency, saying "there's no limit to skepticism if the messaging isn't coherent". Village officials have acquired roughly 82 percent of the 2,873 acres Foxconn wants to build on for its three-phase project. Foxconn did return some of its incentives to the state after it missed on 2018 hiring goals.

Foxconn doubled down on its commitment to southeastern Wisconsin after reports surfaced that it was reconsidering manufacturing at its Mount Pleasant facility. Generation 6 production uses different machinery and is much cheaper than Generation 10.5 companies, according to industry experts.

In comments published on Wednesday, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn's Gou, told Reuters those plans might be scaled back or even shelved, citing the steep cost of making advanced TV screens in the United States, where labor expenses are comparatively high. The larger plant, which had been part of Foxconn's initial plans, would have used glass more than three-times as large as what the smaller facility will use. The Gen 6 plant can make screens ranging in size from a smart-phone to a 75-inch television, while the larger plant would have allowed for devices as large as 9.5 feet by 11 feet. But after conversations between Trump and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, the company said it would now move "forward with our planned construction of a Gen 6 fab facility".

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Trump had unveiled the deal in the East Room of the White House with former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2017 and attended a groundbreaking ceremony last summer in Racine County.

Mount Pleasant resident Paul Pham said he won't be sold on the deal until Foxconn's commitment to 13,000 jobs are fulfilled.

But Foxconn has repeatedly revised its plans for what will be made in Wisconsin and who will work there, causing confusion in the state and leading critics of the project this week to accuse Foxconn of a "bait and switch".

The company previously said the changing global economic climate - roiled by Trump's trade spat with China, where Foxconn has most of its assembly lines - prompted it to revise its original plans.

On Friday Evers said he believed Foxconn was committed to Wisconsin but said the company needed to do a better job of communicating its intentions. Apple is Foxconn's main manufacturing customer and it has forecast a drop in revenue from the Chinese market due to decreasing demand for iPhones.

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