Apple to shift assembly of Mac Pro from US to China

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple will manufacture its new Mac Pro computer in China, shifting away from a United States (US) assembly line it had been using for that product in recent years, according to a report published on Friday.

The company intends to assemble the new Mac Pro in a factory near Shanghai, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited unidentified people familiar with the plan.

Apple issued a statement saying the new Mac Pro will be designed and engineered in California, but wouldn’t say where it will be assembled.

“We’re proud to support manufacturing facilities in 30 US states and last year we spent USD60 billion with over 9,000 suppliers across the US,” Apple said.

Even so, moving Mac Pro assembly to China represents a retrenchment that underscores the challenges that Apple might face as it explores ways to avoid potential tariffs that the Trump administration may slap on the iPhone and other Apple devices already being made in China.

File photo shows a monitor of the Mac Pro is shown in the display room at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California. – AP

Unlike most other Apple products, the USD6,000 Mac Pro isn’t designed for the mass market. It’s a high-end desktop computer designed for companies and people who have specialised needs.

Apple has been assembling Mac Pros in Austin, Texas, since 2013 as part of a USD100 million commitment that CEO Tim Cook trumpeted in a national television interview.

But the Austin factory, run by Flex Ltd, encountered problems finding enough skilled labour 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 in the city, according to a former Flex vice president quoted by the Journal.

Flex declined to comment.

Apple is still spending USD1 billion on a corporate campus in Austin in an expansion that is supposed to create at least 5,000 jobs.