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November 08, 2012

Could Foxconn Electronics Set up Plants in United States?

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

Foxconn Electronics – which consistently seems to get into the news about its unfair treatment of workers in China – may soon open some plants in the United States.

Though U.S. labor laws are much tougher than China’s and labor rates higher, one report suggests that the company may choose to make a product where production is largely automated. An example would be LCD TVs, according to CNET.

Foxconn was reportedly looking at U.S. cities such as Detroit and Los Angeles to locate a plant, Digitimes reported.

Image via Shutterstock

In a related matter, Foxconn may start a training program for U.S.-based engineers that would be located in Taiwan or China. It would relate to manufacturing and product design, Digitimes said. Foxconn has discussed the program with MIT (News - Alert).

In a related matter, Foxconn was interested in purchasing two of Sharp's assembly plants in Mexico and China. In addition, in May Foxconn spent $210 million for a new plant in China's Jiangsu province.

But its workforce practices in China have come under close scrutiny. For instance, it has hired underage interns to work in its plants. Foxconn was also chastised for excessive overtime and low wages, news reports add.

Foxconn made some progress in improving working conditions at three facilities in China, according to the Fair Labor Association (FLA), TechZone360 reported. More improvements are expected.

But the FLA itself came under fire from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) for not being tough enough with Foxconn, noting that demand for the iPhone (News - Alert) 5 “has unraveled any potential improvements in working conditions at the Chinese factories,” CNET said.

"In contrast to the FLA's glowing assessment, improvements in working conditions at Foxconn have in most cases been modest, fleeting, or purely symbolic, while some key reform pledges have been broken outright," the EPI claimed in a report.

Foxconn is perhaps best known as the manufacturer of iPhones for Apple (News - Alert).

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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