Friday, 19 April, 2019

Foxconn reconsidering plans to make LCD panels at Wisconsin plant

Foxconn signing Foxconn and University Wisconsin officials signing a deal for a research center
Russell Knight | 01 February, 2019, 06:00

Foxconn Technology Group said Wednesday it is shifting the focus of its planned $10-billion US Wisconsin campus away from blue-collar manufacturing to a research hub while insisting it remains committed to creating 13,000 jobs.

Now, those plans may be scaled back or even shelved, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters.

Foxconn may be reconsidering its plans for a massive Wisconsin factory.

Louis Woo, the special assistant to Foxconn chief executive Terry Gou, told the press service that the company was still considering its options in Wisconsin, but said the cost of manufacturing TVs in the US was simply too high. A company official said it is scaling back, though, and possibly ending plans to build liquid crystal display panel screens, saying it can not compete in the U.S.

But he added: "Given global economic conditions and the trade tensions between China and the US.it's impossible that we can always stay committed to our original plan without any change".

On Wednesday, Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn dropped a bombshell on Wisconsin: their $10 billion new campus in the state will not be devoted primarily to manufacturing LCD screens as promised.

"Republicans will do all that we can to keep Wisconsin open for business and the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit in place".

The Office of the Governor said in a Wednesday statement it has been in contact with senior leadership at Foxconn since the Reuters story was published. Taiwan-based manufacturer Foxconn chose to build a 20-million-square-foot facility there, with the main focus being on manufacturing LCD panels for TVs. Now, Woo says they will not make them at all. Gou was likely to meet with the new governor, Tony Evers, later this year to work out adjustments to the deal, Reuters reported.

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"In a short time, Foxconn has made a positive impact across Wisconsin with more than 1,000 new jobs, an investment of $200 million, three innovation centers and one of the largest gifts ever of $100 million to the UW-Madison".

Tom Still, president of Wisconsin's Technology Council, said he's not surprised that Foxconn wants to change course because televisions are becoming less expensive and iPhone sales are declining.

"This news is devastating for the taxpayers of Wisconsin", said Wisconsin Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, a Democrat. So far it has hired 178 employees. They also said the massive plant that was relying on water from nearby Lake Michigan posed serious environmental risks.

Hon Hai's potential retreat from its signature United States project comes as demand for Apple's iPhone - and smartphones in general - is flagging.

Democratic critics said the incentives promised to Foxconn were too rich, and they questioned whether the company would ever fulfill its promises.

Foxconn is already scaling back their initial jobs promise.

"The state of Wisconsin is investing in a once-in-a-lifetime economic development opportunity that will be transformational as the state will become home to the only LCD manufacturing facility outside of Asia", Mark Maley, spokesman for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, told The Washington Post in a November email. "Today we're seeing the results of the pro-America agenda".

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