Apple has submitted a notice to the US Foreign Trade Zones Board, signaling its intent to vastly expand manufacturing capabilities at its Mesa, Arizona facility, where it already produces components for its computer systems.
Apple’s notice was submitted on December 27, and published on the Federal Register yesterday.
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If everything happens to plan, it’ll see Apple produce finished products within the United States, rather than just individual components. Apple will also be able to take advantage of rules allowing it to import components from overseas – like batteries, printed circuit boards, and so on – without paying any taxes or duties, or at the very least, paying a reduced rate. Per the notice:
Production under FTZ procedures could exempt Apple from customs duty payments on the foreign-status materials/components used in export production. On its domestic sales, Apple would be able to choose the duty rate during customs entry procedures that applies to finished server assembly cabinets (duty-free) for the foreign-status materials/components noted below and in the existing scope of authority.
The note adds that “customs duties also could possibly be deferred or reduced on foreign-status production equipment.”
The status of US manufacturing was a huge issue in the last election cycle, with President-Elect Donald Trump winning big in states that have seen the biggest declines in the secondary sector. Trump himself has gone on the record and said that one of the biggest achievements of his premiership would be for Apple to expand its manufacturing base in the United States.
Apple’s plans for its Mesa, Arizona facility are, therefore, a huge coup for the President-Elect. But neither he, nor we, should get too excited. The first product Apple intends to build in the Grand Canyon State isn’t a new iPhone, but rather data server cabinets.
Apple already has some experience with building products in the United States; it already assembles the Mac Pro in Austin, Texas. And as Cupertino continues to figure out the kinks of this, it’s not unconceivable that it’ll eventually move on to manufacturing more ambitious products in the land of the free.