America’s biggest company builds nearly all of its products overseas, making the White House’s “Made in America” week a bit awkward for the tech giant.
The White House’s focus on “Made in America” this week creates interesting tension for the country’s largest company.
For years now, Apple has consciously made the decision to manufacture most of its products overseas. On the campaign trail last year, then-candidate Donald Trump criticized Apple by name for the practice.
“We have to bring Apple, and other companies like Apple, back to the United States,” Trump said in January 2016.
In fact, a 2012 New York Times report found that “almost all” of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads, and 59 million other products that Apple sold the previous year “were manufactured overseas.”
And while Apple employs 40,000 Americans (a tenth of the American workers employed by General Motors in its heyday), the company employs another 20,000 overseas. Most notably, however, the company relies on an additional 700,000 people to engineer, build, and assemble its products. According to the Times, “almost none” of those individuals live in the United States.
The decision to move manufacturing overseas can be traced directly to current CEO Tim Cook. In 2004, Cook served as Apple’s operations expert, and it was Cook who identified Asia as the market where the company could ship jobs to help boost profit margins.
Eleven years later, Cook told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that “skill” was the reason for moving the jobs to China.
“It’s skill,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in response to a question on “60 Minutes” Sunday from Charlie Rose as to why the company’s products are made in China.
Rose clearly wasn’t buying it. “They have more skills than American workers? They have more skills than German workers?” he pressed.
“The U.S., over time, began to stop having as many vocational kind of skills,” Cook explained. “I mean, you can take every tool and die maker in the United States and probably put them in a room that we’re currently sitting in. In China, you would have to have multiple football fields.”
Regardless of Cook’s reasoning, the fact of the matter is Apple is an American company that is not “Made in America.”
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