Apple moving production of U.S.-built Mac Pro computer to China

By Sarah Min

/ MoneyWatch

Apple is moving production of its new Mac Pro computer to China, marking the departure of the technology company's only major U.S.-built product, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Apple didn't refute the report in a comment to CBS MoneyWatch. The Cupertino, California-based company is working with contractor Quanta Computer to assemble the desktop computer in a factory near Shanghai, which would help cut shipping costs with Apple's other suppliers in China, the Journal said on Friday.

The Mac Pro model had been manufactured by contractor Flex in Austin, Texas since 2013 as part of a $100 million commitment that CEO Tim Cook trumpeted in a national television interview. An Apple spokesperson said the new Mac Pro is designed and engineered in California and includes parts from the United States, as with other Apple products.

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"Final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process," an Apple spokesman added.

The spokesman declined to comment beyond the statement.

Worker shortage

Flex's Austin factory encountered problems finding enough skilled labor willing to work for minimum wage, according to the Journal. Then, as Mac Pro sales faltered, Flex began laying off workers in Austin, and by last year had a skeleton crew left in Austin, according to a former Flex vice president quoted by the Journal.

Neither Flex nor Quanta Computer immediately responded to requests for comment.

Tim Cook on immigration, tariffs and spending too much time on our phones

Unlike iPhones, iPads and MacBooks, Apple's Mac Pro is not one of the tech giant's top-selling products, though at a $6,000 starting price, it is one of its most expensive. However, Apple has long attracted criticism for relying on China to manufacture its products. With the Trump administration's trade war with China, Apple is among the U.S. businesses facing higher costs because of new and proposed U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports.

The tech giant just last week warned trade officials the latest round of tariffs on China would hurt its competitiveness. It also reportedly has been studying moving nearly one-third of its production out of China, though any decision to do so would likely be a long process, as it can take years for a global company like Apple to shift its manufacturing.

"We urge the U.S. government not to impose tariffs on these products," Apple wrote.

The development comes just as Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet Saturday for the G20 Summit in Japan. Separately, Apple's design chief Jony Ive also announced his departure from the company Thursday.

–With reporting by The Associated Press.

First published on June 28, 2019 / 2:52 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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