Apple pledges to make latest Mac Pro in US after weekend tariff exemptions

Apple Inc. has decided to continue assembling its Mac Pro desktop computer in the U.S. after securing tariff waivers on certain components it imports from China.

Regulators over the weekend approved 10 of the 15 exemption requests the company had sent to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. That led to Apple announcing today that it will make the latest Mac Pro model unveiled in June at the same Austin, Texas facility where the previous iteration of the computer was assembled.

The iPhone maker reportedly had different plans before the waivers. Also in June, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was producing Mac Pros at a factory near Shanghai operated by Quanta Computer Inc., a Taiwanese contract manufacturer.

The Austin facility that will now take over the operation belongs to a rival electronics maker called Flex Ltd. Though the factory has been making the previous version of the Mac Pro since 2013, the decision to relocate manufacturing from China to the U.S. could potentially still delay the computer’s launch. Apple previously said that it plans to start accepting orders this autumn but didn’t specify when the first units will ship.

The new Mac Pro targets power users such as designers who need more computing capacity than what a standard desktop can deliver. The $5,999 base model comes with an eight-core Intel Corp. processor, a Radeon Pro 580X graphics card, 32 gigabytes of memory and a 256-gigabyte flash drive. The pricier configurations go all the way up to 24 processor cores, 1.5 terabytes of memory and 4 terabytes of storage.

Currently, the Mac Pro is the only major product that Apple assembles in the U.S. The company said this latest model has two and a half times more domestically made components, as measured by their dollar value, than the current six-year-old model it will succeed.

Apple spent a total of $60 billion with American suppliers last year and said that it expects to contribute $350 billion to the economy by 2023. Besides buying parts, the company also makes strategic investments in key manufacturing partners to ensure its access to important technology. Just last week, the company injected $250 million into iPhone glass supplier Corning Inc. to support the development of new materials for future devices.

Apple isn’t the only tech giant rethinking its supply chain amid the trade dispute between Washington and Beijing. A recent leak suggests that Google LLC is in the process of moving Pixel production from China to Vietnam and may relocate manufacturing operations for other devices as well further down the road. 

Photo: Apple

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