Manufacturing News

Apple to pull manufacturing back west

Tech giant Apple will spend nearly $100 million next year to shift production of one of its Mac computer lines from China back to the United States.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company had a “responsibility to create jobs” in the US and it had been working on making the move for a “long time”.

“We're really proud of it [and] we could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it's broader because we wanted to do something more substantial,” he said.

Since the late 1990s Apple has shifted most of its manufacturing to China, and has recently suffered criticism over the poor working conditions of its Chinese workers.

The move back to the US represents a significant shift for the company, with former CEO Steve Jobs last year claiming Apple’s manufacturing jobs were “never coming back” to the US.

So far Cook hasn’t detailed which computers Apple will be making in the US, or where it’s new manufacturing facilities will be located.

Nevertheless the move is a welcome boost for the US manufacturing sector, and a positive move for the global industry.

Like most developed nations Australian manufacturers have faced similar pressure from cheap labour in Asia, and Apple’s move back west will be an important test case for the competitiveness of local businesses.

Mobile industry analyst Horace Dediu told the Financial Times while the move was an important step it was set to remain largely “symbolic” for the time being.

"It is almost like a trial," Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi told the Wall Street Journal.

"If it works it works, and if it doesn't work they can say they tried it."

Earlier this year rumours surfaced Apple’s Asia-based manufacturers were having difficulty building the company’s new line of iMacs because of the complexity of the materials and building process.

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