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Could Donald Trump really get Apple to ‘build a big plant’ in the US?

Donald Trump says he promised Apple CEO Tim Cook ‘incentives’ such as tax breaks to get the company to bring its manufacturing home.
Donald Trump says he promised Apple CEO Tim Cook ‘incentives’ such as tax breaks to get the company to bring its manufacturing home. Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Donald Trump told Apple CEO Tim Cook that he is going to “get” the company to start manufacturing its products in the United States, the president-elect told the New York Times on Tuesday.

Trump revealed that he had received a post-election phone call from Cook during which he said, “Tim, you know one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States.”

According to Trump’s account, Cook responded, “I understand that,” and Trump went on to promise incentives through tax breaks and reduced regulations.

“I think we’ll create the incentives for you, and I think you’re going to do it,” Trump said he said.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of Trump’s characterization of the call, nor did it respond to a request for comment on the content of Trump’s remarks.

Though Apple markets its high-end products as being “designed by Apple in California”, the electronics are assembled at factories in China from components produced primarily in China, Japan and Taiwan, according to the MIT Technology Review. The company says that its suppliers employ more than 1.6 million people.

Forcing American companies to bring jobs back to the US was one of the key themes of Trump’s presidential campaign, despite his own business’s decision to manufacture apparel in China or Bangladesh.

“We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries,” the then-candidate told supporters in Virginia on 18 January.

Trump later called for a boycott of the company’s products unless it acceded to the FBI’s demand that it unlock one of the San Bernardino shooters’ iPhones, a request Apple had strenuously resisted.

Apple markets its products as ‘designed in California’ but assembles them in Chinese factories from components produced in China, Japan and Taiwan.

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