Apple does the bulk of its manufacturing outside of the U.S. During his campaign, Donald Trump said he could change that.
Now he says he is setting the wheels in motion, starting with a phone conversation with Tim Cook.
Here’s Trump’s description of his call to the Apple CEO, via a transcript of his talk with the New York Times yesterday:
“I got a call from Tim Cook at Apple, and I said, ‘Tim, you know one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States, where instead of going to China, and going to Vietnam, and going to the places that you go to, you’re making your product right here.’ He said, ‘I understand that.’ I said: ‘I think we’ll create the incentives for you, and I think you’re going to do it. We’re going for a very large tax cut for corporations, which you’ll be happy about.’ But we’re going for big tax cuts, we have to get rid of regulations, regulations are making it impossible. Whether you’re liberal or conservative, I mean I could sit down and show you regulations that anybody would agree are ridiculous. It’s gotten to be a free-for-all. And companies can’t, they can’t even start up, they can’t expand, they’re choking.”
Since Trump’s proxies have told us to take the things he says seriously but not literally — no jail time for you, Hillary Clinton! — it’s reasonable not to read too much into this anecdote, or anything else he told the Times.*
On the other hand, one of the biggest themes of Trump’s campaign, and the one his advisers say is most meaningful, is the notion that he can force/persuade companies to bring manufacturing jobs back into the U.S. So maybe he thinks this really can happen.
On yet another hand, Apple seems quite serious about keeping the bulk of its manufacturing outside the U.S. You can read all about that in a Times story published earlier this week — with Apple’s cooperation — which explains that Apple is happy to employ tens of thousands of American workers, but in roles like tech support or engineering, not assembling phones.
* You could pick any section of the Times transcript, read it out loud and find it baffling/amusing/deeply worrisome. Here, for instance, is his stance on windmills:
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.