Foxconn's Gou to discuss trade war, investment on US trip

TAIPEI (REUTERS) – Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Apple supplier Foxconn, said on Tuesday (Dec 3) he would discuss investment and the China-US trade war while in the United States, adding that he may get to meet US President Donald Trump again.

Gou, Taiwan’s richest person with a net worth of US$7.6 billion (S$10.3 billion) according to Forbes, stepped down as chief of Foxconn this year, handing over the running of the company to an operations committee.

But he retained a seat on the board of the company, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry.

Gou, who is attending the White House Christmas party as part of his 10-day trip, met Trump in Washington in May to discuss the Taiwanese company’s planned investment in Wisconsin.

He told reporters at Taipei airport he has two meetings arranged with administration officials about investment, and wants to discuss the China-US trade war to try and “understand when there will be a fairly good conclusion”.

Trump, however, will be more interested in the Wisconsin investment, Gou added, sitting by a cap with a Taiwanese and US flag on it and the words “Make America great again” – a popular slogan of Trump’s.

“If I bump into him I’ll tell him about the progress,” Gou said.

Foxconn is finding it hard to find workers, given the low unemployment rate in the United States, he added.

“In Wisconsin it’s not easy to find this year’s target of 500 people. It’s very difficult.”

Foxconn pledged to create 13,000 jobs and build a US$10 billion campus in Wisconsin, including factories, but it has not met early hiring targets and has said it has been reconsidering its plans.

The planned 20 million sq ft campus in south-eastern Wisconsin had been hailed by the White House as the largest investment for a brand new location by a foreign-based company in US history and proof that Trump was reviving American manufacturing.

But Foxconn’s changing plans have raised doubts about how many jobs it will create.

Foxconn initially sought to manufacture advanced large-screen displays for TVs and other consumer and professional products at the Wisconsin site.

It later said it would build smaller Generation 6 liquid crystal display screens instead and is currently constructing a nearly a 1 million sq ft facility that will begin production in 2020’s 4th quarter.

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