As trade disputes between the US and China continue, Apple supplier Foxconn will reportedly move some production for iPads and MacBooks to Vietnam.
Foxconn will move some assembly for Apple’s iPads and MacBooks from China to Vietnam, according to Reuters. A person familiar with the plan told Reuters that the company sees this as a way to diversify production and protect itself against the impact of a trade war between the US and China.
It comes as US president Donald Trump has called on American manufacturers to pull out of China, after previously placing higher import tariffs on electronic goods made in China.
Foxconn has reportedly begun building assembly lines for the iPad and MacBook parts at one of its plants in the north-eastern Vietnam province of Bac Giang. It’s expected the lines will begin operation in the first half of next year and will take some of China’s production.
“The move was requested by Apple,” the source told Reuters. “It wants to diversify production following the trade war.”
Foxconn issued a brief statement in response to the claim, saying: “As a matter of company policy, and for reasons of commercial sensitivity, we do not comment on any aspect of our work for any customer or their products.” Apple has also declined to comment on the matter.
According to a recent report from The Information, Foxconn’s factories across China have been responsible for assembling the vast majority of Apple’s hardware for nearly two decades.
Plans for India, too
If the move is confirmed, this would be the first time that iPads have been made outside of China. Reuters reported that the Vietnam plant is also expected to start producing TV sets for other companies including Sony.
Nikkei Asia also reported this week that Foxconn plans to expand production in Vietnam with an investment of around $270m.
Similar plans to diversify Apple manufacturing away from China were reported earlier this year. In July, senior industry executives claimed that the tech giant was to start manufacturing the iPhone 11 in Foxconn’s plant in Chennai, India.
Production will reportedly be increased in phases and Apple is said to be leaving the door open to exporting the phones outside of India. Around that time, it was reported that Foxconn planned to invest $1bn in India.