By Alexandra Burlacu | Dec 10, 2012 04:18 PM EST
Manufacturing giant Foxconn Technology Group has confirmed plans to expand its operations to North America, as customers request more products made in the U.S.A.
Foxconn manufactures technology products for a number of top firms, notably Apple, and the move to expand its operations to North America could be linked to Apple's plan to bring Mac manufacturing back into the States.
"We are looking at doing more manufacturing in the US because, in general, customers want more to be done there," Foxconn spokesman Louis Woo told Bloomberg BusinessWeek in a telephone interview. Woo declined to further elaborate on specific plans or detail which individual clients made the requests.
The news comes after Apple CEO Tim Cook said last week that the Cupertino tech giant will manufacture one of its Mac lines in the U.S. by the end of next year. Apple is not only the world's most valuable company, but is also Foxconn's biggest client. Building Mac computers in the U.S. next year will amount to more than $100 million.
According to Woo, Foxconn has more than 1.6 million workers globally, including in factories in California and Texas, making partially-assembled products such as servers.
"Supply chain is one of the big challenges for U.S. expansion," Woo told Bloomberg. "In addition, any manufacturing we take back to the U.S. needs to leverage high-value engineering talent there in comparison to the low-cost labor of China."
At a forum last month, Foxconn chairman Terry Gou detailed plans to take U.S. engineers to Asia and train them in manufacturing there before deploying them back home. Gou's comments came after word first spread in November that Foxconn was considering U.S.-based factories. The manufacturer was reportedly weighing the possibility of opening up shop in several U.S. cities such as Detroit and Los Angeles.
"[Gou only floated] the possibility of Foxconn providing opportunities for engineers in the US to visit the company's facilities in China for technical exchanges as part of a larger program to further develop and promote automation in the manufacturing sector," a Foxconn spokeswoman said at the time.
While Woo did not elaborate on the company's plans, one thing's for sure now: Foxconn is definitely considering a U.S. expansion to meet the needs and requests of its customers, and to "leverage the high-value engineering talent" in the U.S. market.