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MIT Technology Review

Made in America: Asian Tech Giants Say They Will Expand U.S. Operations Under Trump

Softbank and Foxconn both plan to broaden their American operations, and the president-elect is happy to take credit.

December 7, 2016

Japanese telecom company Softbank and Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn have announced that they plan to invest heavily in U.S. operations.

Softbank’s CEO announced that the company will invest $50 billion in America, with plans to create 50,000 new jobs. His news was delivered in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, following a meeting with the president-elect. The money will come from a $100 billion investment fund that Softbank has established with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund.

That announcement was swiftly followed by news from Foxconn—the company that manufactures devices for companies like Apple—explaining that it, too, plans to expand U.S. operations. In a statement, the company explained that “the scope of the potential investment has not been determined,” adding that final decisions will be made “following the completion of direct discussions between our leadership and the relevant U.S. officials.”

The president-elect hosted Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son at Trump Tower for the announcement that Son's company would make a huge investment in expanding its U.S. operations.

Donald Trump has already claimed credit for Softbank’s pledge. And it may be justified: its CEO mentioned increasing deregulation under Trump during his announcement.

If that is the case, the news could be a significant victory for Trump. The president-elect previously stated that he wanted to invigorate the manufacturing industry in the U.S., promising to “get Apple to start making their computers and their iPhones on our land, not in China.”

Apple is unlikely to shift production wholesale to the U.S., as China offers it cheap labor, a skilled workforce, and flexible factory facilities that domestic setups can’t currently match. But if Foxconn does expand operations in America, Apple may tempted to manufacture more of its goods on American soil.

Indeed, its hand may be forced in the coming weeks. Trump is said to be inviting the Silicon Valley elite to a roundtable discussion next week. It’s not clear what will be on the agenda, or who exactly will attend—though chief executives of Oracle and Cisco Systems are confirmed.

Whoever shows up, Trump will certainly try to convince attendees that they should be building their products in the U.S. It will be a meeting that could potentially shape the next four years of technological change—and where it’s made.

(Read more: Reuters, Bloomberg, The New York Times, “The All-American iPhone”)