Back in June, Apple unveiled its latest Mac Pro, an insanely powerful new desktop Mac offering performance configurations — and prices — that reach into the stratosphere, with up to 28 cores and 1.5 TB of RAM.
However, despite earlier reports that Apple was planning to manufacture the new Mac Pro in China, it looks like it’s actually going to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor and be made in the U.S.A.
Mac Pro in China
The earlier reports that Apple was going to produce the new Mac in China weren’t just sketchy rumours, but rather came from the Wall Street Journal, which had indications that Quanta Computer was ramping up production for the new machines in a factory near Shanghai.
While Apple produces most of its consumer products in China, the last Mac Pro was an exception, built in a Texas plant. Presumably, Apple believed it could get away with this due to the much lower scale of manufacturing for a high-end Mac that only the most serious professionals and production houses could afford. Even so, Apple struggled with U.S. production, so it wasn’t entirely surprising to hear that it may have had plans to produce the new model mostly — if not entirely — in China.
Trump and Tarrifs
What’s not as clear is whether these reports were simply inaccurate, or whether Apple changed direction following pressure from the Trump administration.
Back in July, Apple petitioned the White House to exclude certain Mac Pro components from the increasing tariffs being levied on Chinese imports in the ongoing trade war between the two countries.
In response, U.S. President Donald Trump fired back by refusing to waive tariffs, saying that he expected Apple to build a plant in Texas instead — the same state in which the prior Mac Pro was assembled.
Notably, however, Apple wasn’t seeking a tariff exemption on the entire Mac Pro, but rather only specific parts such as the external chassis, cables, power supplies, and circuit boards such as graphics cards. Further, despite Trump’s posturing — and public responses on the dockets — that these components should be made in the U.S.A. as well, it seems that almost all of Apple’s requests have actually been approved for exemption.
‘Assembled in Texas’
To be clear, the 2013 Mac Pro wasn’t fully manufactured in Texas either, but rather was simply assembled from parts that were imported from suppliers elsewhere — mostly in China.
Not surprisingly, the reality is that Apple still needs to source at least some components for its modular Mac Pro from China, and despite earlier rumours of a Shanghai plant, it’s entirely possible that Apple was seriously considering continuing to assemble the new Mac Pro in Texas all along.
Apple officially announced the plan yesterday, emphasizing that the components in the Mac Pro will be “designed, developed and manufactured by more than a dozen American companies” and emphasizing that the new Mac Pro relies on fewer foreign-manufactured components than the prior 2013 model did — at least in terms of the overall value of the components.
The US manufacturing of Mac Pro is made possible following a federal product exclusion Apple is receiving for certain necessary components. The value of American-made components in the new Mac Pro is 2.5 times greater than in Apple’s previous generation Mac Pro.
Apple deftly sidesteps the question of how many foreign components it’s bringing in — and in fact the word “China” doesn’t appear anywhere in its news release — focusing instead on the 13 states where manufacturers and suppliers such as Intersil and ON Semiconductor will be manufacturing components.
The Mac Pro itself will be put together at a plant in Austin, Texas, in line with President Trump’s prediction earlier this summer. Apple notes that “every Apple product is designed and engineered in the U.S.” and touts how it supports 450,000 jobs across 36 states with U.S. suppliers, and expects to continue expanding to meet its commitment to investing $350 billion in the U.S. economy by 2023.