Last week, President Donald Trump said Apple and its CEO Tim Cook had personally promised to build three “big beautiful plants” in the United States.
Apple has been silent about Trump’s remarks, declining to comment to Business Insider and scores of other newspapers and outlets that have asked.
Cook dodged the direct question.
Here’s the exchange:
UBS analyst Steven Milunovich: Government question, first of all: The president suggested that you may build three big beautiful plants. Wonder if you’d comment on if that’s a possibility, either directly or indirectly.
Apple CEO Tim Cook: Sure, starting with the US. Let me just take this question from a “what are we doing to increase jobs” [standpoint], which I think is probably where it’s rooted. We’ve created 2 million jobs in the U.S. we’re incredibly proud of that. We do view we have a responsibility in the US to increase economic activity, including increasing jobs. Because Apple could have only been created here. So as we look at that 2 million, there are three main categories of that, to further build on that momentum.
The first category is app development. About three quarters of the 2 million are app developers, and we are doing an enormous amount of things to deliver curriculum to K-12 with Swift Playgrounds, in the K-6 area, other curriculum as you proceed beyond grade 6. Just a couple of months ago, we announced a new curriculum that’s focused on community schools, community colleges, junior colleges, technical colleges, for kids that did not have coding in their elementary and high school years. And so we’re excited about that because we think it could increase the diversity of the developer community and the quantity. And we think that this area in general and all the things we do for the developer community will be the largest contribution Apple can make because this is the fastest growing job segment in the country and we think will be for quite some time.
If you look at the second area, we have purchased about $50 billion worth of goods and services from US-based suppliers. Some significant proportion of those are manufacturing-related, and so we’ve asked ourselves what we can do to increase this. And you may have seen at the beginning of the quarter, April I believe, we announced an advanced manufacturing fund, that we’re initially placing $1 billion in, and we’ve already deployed $200 million of that. The first recipient is Corning, in Kentucky, and they’ll be using that money to expand the plant to make very innovative glass. We purchased that glass and essentially export it to the world with iPhones and iPads. We think there’s more of these we can do, there are probably several plants that can benefit from having some investment to grow or expand or even maybe set up shop in the US for the first time.
In the third area, we have about two-thirds of our employee base in the US despite only about one-third of our revenues being here. We have some things we’ll say about that later in the year. So that’s what we’re doing from a job growth point of view, and we’re very very proud of that.
Trump made the comments about the “big beautiful plants” to the Wall Street Journal. Trump gave the interview shortly before Foxconn, Apple’s top manufacturing partner, announced a factory in Wisconsin.
Here’s what Trump said:
TRUMP: But one of the things we’re doing that, so Gary and I are working – because I said, you know, Gary, we’re going to have Foxconn come in. We’re going to have a lot of companies that are coming in. Foxconn’s coming in with a big plan. We have Tim Cook I spoke to, and he’s promised me three big plants – big, big, big. I said, you know, Tim, unless –
WSJ: Really? Where?
TRUMP: We’ll have to see. You can call him. But I said, Tim, unless you start building your plants in this country, I won’t consider my administration an economic success, OK? And he’s called me and he says, you know, they’re going forward, three big, beautiful plants. You’ll have to call him. I mean, maybe he won’t tell you what he tells me, but I believe he will do that. I really believe it.