Apple’s new Mac Pro will be built in China, unlike the previous model that’s been assembled in a plant in Austin, Texas since 2013, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The vast majority of Apple products are manufactured in China, so it’s not entirely surprising to see Apple shift production overseas. But it comes at a fraught time, as the tech industry faces the prospect of 25 percent tariffs on imports from China, and could have political implications for a company that President Trump has regularly called out for not making products in the US.
When Apple announced its previous generation of the Mac Pro, it made a big deal about the fact that the computer would be assembled in the US. Ahead of the announcement, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that it was something Apple had been working “for a long time” to make happen. “We’re really proud of it,” he said.
But the training and custom tools required to make the Mac Pros slowed production, creating bottlenecks when there was high demand. Then, as Apple let the Mac Pro languish by failing to update it with new parts, US production dwindled, and the Journal reports that the Texas plant largely moved on to building products for other companies.
Apple seems to have been planning for years to move assembly on the new Mac Pro to China. Bloomberg reported in 2016 that the manufacturing challenges experienced with US production made engineers want to move back, so that they’d have access to cheaper and more advanced manufacturing capabilities available there.
Apple told the Journal that the new Mac Pro will still have some US-made components and that it supports manufacturing in 30 US states with its spending on suppliers. “Final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process,” an Apple spokesperson said.