06:46 GMT19 January 2021
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    Apple is reportedly planning to start manufacturing its new Mac Pro computer in China, shifting abroad production of what had been its only major device assembled in the US, despite the escalating trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

    The tech giant has tapped contractor Quanta Computer Inc. to manufacture the $6,000 desktop computer and is ramping up production at a factory near Shanghai, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. The factory in Quanta is close to other Apple suppliers across Asia, achieving lower shipping costs than if it shipped components to the US.

    While Mac Pro is a niche device for the professional community, previous models, released in 2013, were built entirely in the US. Back then, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook trumpeted plans to build it domestically. Apple invested $100 million in tooling and other equipment for a plant in Austin, Texas, run by contract manufacturer Flex Ltd. Each computer was stamped with “Assembled in the USA.”

    An Apple spokesman told Fox News that the new Mac Pro is designed and engineered in the US and includes US-made components. Apple said it supports manufacturing in 30 US states and spent $60 billion last year with more than 9,000 US suppliers.

    “Final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process,” the spokesman said, adding that the company’s investments support two million American jobs. The Mac Pro is Apple’s most powerful computer, used primarily by a small group of professionals working in industries such as film and videogames.

    Back in 2017, US President Donald Trump had pressured Apple to make some iPhones, Macs or iPads on US soil, telling The Wall Street Journal that Cook promised to build “three big plants, beautiful plants.” Since then, Apple has announced a second campus in Austin, Texas, to handle customer support and operations, and announced more than $500 million in new contracts with US component suppliers that manufacture at home.

    The US and China plunged into an escalating tit-for-tat tariff spat in mid-2018, when the Trump administration slapped 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Since then, the economic powers have hit one another with several more rounds of restrictions, yet Apple products were excluded from the initial round of duties. However, with Trump recently threatening to put tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese goods which are not taxed on entry to the United States, the duties would affect all of Apple’s major devices, including the Mac, iPhone and iPad.


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