News / Economy

Apple Contractor Foxconn Seeks Wider Reach after China Flaps

FILE - Employees work at a Foxconn factory in Wuhan, Hubei province, China.
FILE - Employees work at a Foxconn factory in Wuhan, Hubei province, China.
Ralph Jennings
Foxconn is known as the company that assembles iPads and iPhones for the world with inexpensive labor in China. Now, the giant contractor is trying to diversify clientele, geography and means of production to grow its business as workplace issues haunt it in China. Foxconn’s latest ambition calls for investing $1 billion in the capital of smartphone-savvy Indonesia.
 
Giant Taiwanese contract electronics maker Foxconn normally uses factories in mainland China to make products for the world’s top electronics brands, such as Apple and Sony. But since 2010, the company has been stung there by worker suicides and labor protests. This month, Foxconn signed a deal to invest $1 billion in high-tech research and development in Indonesia.
 
Jamie Wang, a principal research analyst with the market research firm Gartner in Taipei, said Indonesia gives Foxconn a welcome alternative to China.
 
Wang said Foxconn needs a new production site and that Indonesia offers not only an end-market business opportunity but that, in terms of the production costs, Indonesia offers good value. Another key is whether the local government and its infrastructure give Foxconn attractive incentives or support. As she understands, Jakarta offered Foxconn a substantial support package.
 
Foxconn’s agreement with the city of Jakarta follows a deal in November to spend $40 million on robotics, a relatively new field for the company, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The manufacturer, also known as Hon Hai Precision, said it was studying three other U.S. states for investment. A spokesman said U.S. investments would cast Foxconn as a global company, not a Chinese one. At its home base in Taiwan, Foxconn won a license last year to offer 4G mobile services, another departure from its normal contracting business.
 
Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou hinted at a company year-end party last month in Taiwan that Foxconn would rely less and less on worker-intensive factories in the future. Some see the comment as a sign he is turning away from Chinese workers who have protested Foxconn’s conditions.
 
Gou said manufacturing remains Foxconn’s core business, but because younger people worldwide don’t want to work in factories, manufacturing must rely more on automation.
 
Analysts said the push away from China is not just about shaking off labor problems. Some argue that the company, which earned $130 billion in revenues last year, is also reviewing its relations with Apple. Foxconn is Apple’s largest manufacturer, assembling its products at seven bases between China and Brazil. However, margins may be low as Apple takes on new suppliers. John Brebeck, a senior adviser with Taipei-based Quantum International, pointed out the limitations of working with Apple.
 
“Nobody makes that much money off Apple. You’d have to basically make that product only for them. You have to buy equipment that’s only good for them. I do know that Hon Hai, they make money on Apple but it’s not really high margin. And also every year the Apple supplier list includes more and more Chinese companies,” said Brebeck.
 
In the United States, the government is offering financial incentives to companies such as Apple that make products onshore instead of overseas, a possible threat to Foxconn’s factories outside the country.
 
In Indonesia, Foxconn calls its three- to five-year investment a chance to sell products to a young, smartphone-crazy local population. It plans to develop smartphones, panels and cloud computing tools just in Jakarta for now, but said it is looking at branching out into other parts of Indonesia and other Muslim countries later.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7768
JPY
USD
108.84
GBP
USD
0.6124
CAD
USD
1.0999
INR
USD
61.042

Rates may not be current.