Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd., trading as Foxconn, is a Taiwanese multinational electronics contract manufacturing company and the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer. According to Wikipedia, Foxconn manufactures electronic products for major American, Canadian, Chinese, Finnish and Japanese companies, including the BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Kindle, certain Nintendo and Nokia devices, some Xiaomi devices, the PlayStation 3 and 4, certain Xbox devices, and some CPU sockets on certain motherboards. As of 2012, Foxconn factories manufactured an estimated 40% of all consumer electronics sold worldwide.
Donald Trump made a big show of announcing, back in 2017, that Foxconn was going to build a factory in Wisconsin. (This would also have helped the re-election chances of Governor Scott Walker in 2018, but Walker lost anyway). As reported recently in the New Yorker:
When it was signed . . . the deal that Wisconsin struck with the electronics giant Foxconn contained all kinds of headline-grabbing numbers: the company promised a ten-billion-dollar investment in the state, a new 21.5-million-square-foot campus for manufacturing L.C.D. screens, and as many as thirteen thousand new jobs, paying an average wage of fifty-four thousand dollars a year. The manufacturing facility would be the Taiwan-based company’s first U.S. factory, and the prospect stirred the hopes of a region that still dreams of clawing back the middle-class factory jobs that were its pride in the middle of the twentieth century and that it lost to foreign competition long ago.
However, all that good news didn’t last long. Not even two years.
First the company announced that it was scaling down its plan for the manufacturing facility: it would need only three thousand workers, and, because much of the production at the facility would be automated, many of the jobs would be for “knowledge workers,” not blue-collar workers. Then . . . a company representative told Reuters, plainly, “In Wisconsin we’re not building a factory.” Although the company once planned to hire more than five thousand people by the end of 2020, it now expects the number to be closer to a thousand, and most of those will be in research and design positions. The manufacturing facility that President Trump . . . called “the eighth wonder of the world” seems unlikely to even qualify as the eighth wonder of southeast Wisconsin.
“Rather than manufacturing LCD panels in the United States . . . it would be more profitable to make them in greater China and Japan, ship them to Mexico for final assembly, and import the finished product to the United States” a company spokesman said.
This is what always seems to happen when state governments engage in the untidy process of trying to woo (read: bribe) a company to come to their state. Much is promised, much less is delivered, and there’s really no way to hold the company to account when they breach their promises.
It’s not like it couldn’t be done. There are states that have actually passed conditional legislation with clawback provisions when company’s don’t uphold their end of the bargain. But not many.
Mostly it’s BS.
And — I realize this is shocking since it involves President Donald Trump — the great Foxconn deal was total BS from the outset. What, Donald Trump trying to pull a fast one? That seems so unlike him! But a fast one it was, and the citizens of Wisconsin are slowly becoming a bit wiser for it.