President Donald Trump has advised Apple to start making their flagship product, the iPhone, in the United States after reports that sales of the iconic mobile phone have dipped thanks to the ongoing trade rift between the United States and China.
“Apple makes their product in China. I told Tim Cook, who’s a friend of mine… ‘Make your products in the United States,'” Trump said, as reported by CNN Business. “China is the biggest beneficiary of Apple — not us.”
Trump is right about one thing, Apple makes the majority of their iPhones in China. The various parts of the product come from several different countries. According to CNN Business, the touchscreens come from South Korea, the sensors are from Germany, and the memory chips are from Japan. A Taiwanese company named Foxconn handles turning all of those separate parts into a shiny new iPhone.
Experts say that moving production to the United States isn’t as simple as Trump makes it sound.
“Man could be on Mars before Apple is producing more of its iPhones in the United States, just from a supply chain cost perspective,” said Dan Ives, managing director of equity research at Wedbush, a financial services and investment firm.
As CNN notes, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has said that the United States does not have the “skilled labor” necessary to assemble their signature product. But others suggest that the main reason that Apple manufactures in China has everything to do with their bottom line. Producing the iPhone in the United States would drive up the cost the consumer pays for the mobile device thanks to increased labor costs.
China is not known for stringent labor laws. In January, 2018, Bloomberg published a report which claimed the conditions at one of the factories that makes iPhone casings was unbearable for workers. According to Bloomberg, there have been complaints about a lack of safety equipment like goggles and earplugs. Workers also said that they have to work for long hours without adequate rest periods and go back to dorms that are dirty. The factory is run by a company called Catcher Technology Co.
“My hands turned bloodless white after a day of work,” one worker said. “I only tell good things to my family and keep the sufferings like this for myself.”
According to CNN Business, Apple did not return their requests for a statement on the comments Trump made about uprooting their current supply chain. On Thursday, Apple informed their investors that their sales had been negatively affected by the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute that’s involved the imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods in America and American goods in China.