By Aries Poon
TAIPEI--Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (2317.TW), a key supplier of Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Nokia Corp. (NOK), said Friday that it has been constantly evaluating options to build more manufacturing plants in the U.S. but has no specific imminent plan.
The comment from Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn, came after Apple's Chief Executive Tim Cook told Bloomberg and NBC News that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company had earmarked more than $100 million for next year to build Mac computers in the U.S.
Apple, the world's most valuable company, has faced political pressure to bring jobs home and reduce its reliance on foreign subcontractors, whose treatment of workers has come under harsh scrutiny.
Hon Hai spokesman Louis Woo told the Wall Street Journal Friday: "We are always looking at increasing our presence in the U.S., always working with our customers. It's a continuous review. We don't have imminent plans to build new plants over there."
Currently, Hon Hai has factories in California and Texas, which employ around 3,000 workers, Mr. Woo said, but declined to mention the products being produced there.
The size of its American operation is a tiny fraction of its main production base in China, where it employs 1.5 million workers across the country.
Apple has taken heat from human rights groups for safety incidents and high working hours in factories where their products are assembled, prompting Mr. Cook to invest in improvements.
He has also publicly lamented the loss of manufacturing skills in the U.S. and played down the odds of bringing the bulk of production back from Asia, where years of investment have created sophisticated networks of parts suppliers and factories with specialized production tools.
Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou said last month that he plans to recruit some engineers from the U.S. to work at his plants in China and train them on production knowhow, and then send them back to work in the U.S.
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