Jabil stands by its manufacturing plan as competitor Foxconn pursues U.S. expansion

As President-elect Donald Trump pushes for a return to manufacturing in the United States, Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Group is considering expanding its U.S. operations.

Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL), also an Apple supplier, isn’t talking about following suit.

“Our current operations in the U.S. are in good shape,” Beth Walters, senior vice president for communications and investor relations, said in an email. “We have always maintained a strong manufacturing presence in the USA and are committed to manufacturing [in] the most optimal geographies for our customers.”

Jabil (NYSE: JBL), headquartered in St. Petersburg and the second-largest public company in Tampa Bay, has about 5 million square feet of manufacturing and other operations in in Florida and 10 additional states, Walters said.

Jabil operates in more than two dozen other countries, including China, where it has 23.5 million square feet, including plants that make casings for Apple’s iPhone.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) accounted for about 24 percent of Jabil’s $18.4 billion in revenue for fiscal 2016.

Trump, who has accused China and other countries of stealing manufacturing jobs from the U.S., has talked about imposing a 45 percent tariff on goods imported from China, according to CNBC.

Tariffs are among the factors Jabil cites as potential financial risks in its annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

While Jabil has not immediately reacted to Trump’s comments, Foxconn issued a statement saying it was in preliminary discussions about an expansion of U.S. operations. That statement came one day after the CEO of Japan’s SoftBank Group met with Trump. The SoftBank CEO and the chairman of Foxconn are longtime friends, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Foxconn has other operations besides iPhone production and it wasn’t clear which of those Foxconn could be targeting for U.S. investment, the Journal said.

Industry analysts said it wasn’t feasible that a lot of iPhone production could be done in the U.S. because of higher labor costs and the lack of an integrated supply chain.


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