Foxconn Reverses Course on Wisconsin Plant After Trump Intervention

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"As we have previously noted, the global market environment that existed when the project was first announced has changed", the company said in a statement.

Foxconn said its chairman, Terry Gou, and President Trump personally spoke, in addition to other discussions between the company and the White House.

The company again shifted course Friday, saying it would return to earlier plans to make the LCD panels after a conversation between Foxconn's chairman and President Donald Trump.

In a statement, Foxconn said it remains committed to Wisconsin and the creation of 13,000 jobs as promised.

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He celebrated the statement on Twitter as "great news". Not since President Ronald Reagan in 1984 had a Republican carried Wisconsin in a presidential election, and a big part of Trump's Rust Belt strategy - which also brought unexpected wins in Pennsylvania and MI - was a heavy emphasis on bringing blue-collar manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

Louis Woo, special assistant to Gou, told Reuters on Wednesday that Foxconn wants to create a "technology hub" in Wisconsin that would largely consist of research facilities. The company did not meet its job creation projection of 260 employees previous year, instead hiring 178 employees, and did not take its first eligible state tax credit worth up to $9.5 million.

Wisconsin state and local governments promised roughly $4 billion to Foxconn, the richest incentive package in state history and the biggest pledged by a state to a foreign corporation in US history. At the time, Foxconn pledged to deliver up to 13,000 blue-collar jobs and a $10 billion display-making plant in the state's southeastern corner - a move Trump has repeatedly touted. Tony Evers, a report Evers, Foxconn Technology Group and the state jobs agency refuted.

Foxconn - as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) is commonly referred to in the West - is the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer and assembles most of its products in China, leaving it vulnerable to Trump's tariffs. In an interview with Reuters, the company said this week that even those plans might be scrapped, and the Wisconsin campus would mostly employ engineers and researchers instead. Hogan, CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, also disputed a report from Nikkei Asian Review, citing anonymous sources, that said Evers was attempting to renegotiate side deals with the company.

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In August, Foxconn "gifted" $100 million to University of Wisconsin, earmarking it for engineering and innovation.

"They're offering this commitment that if the village gets into trouble, (state officials) will do everything they can to ask the Legislature to appropriate monies to pay the debt service", said Moody's lead analyst Josh Grundleger. There is "no limit to skepticism" if the company's messaging isn't coherent, said Evers.

It's too early to tell what will unfold in Wisconsin, Dorfman said.

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