Is Insourcing More Than Just Wishful Thinking?

In January, The New York Times published an investigation into how the U.S. had lost out on manufacturing work for products “Designed by Apple in California” but “Assembled in China”. The report cited the sheer scale, speed and flexibility of China’s factories and workforce, and quoted a bleak assessment from Apple founder Steve Jobs: “Those jobs aren’t coming back.” During its traditional disassembly of one of Apple’s latest desktops, however, repair guide site iFixit noted that “Interestingly, this iMac claims to have been assembled in the USA.” While custom-configured, American-assembled Macs are not unheard of, other reports have also surfaced of new, standard-configuration iMacs bearing the “Assembled in USA” marking. At 9to5 Mac, Seth Weibtraub tried to unravel the mystery: The “Assembled in USA” label doesn’t just mean that foreign parts screwed together in the U.S. either. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission assumes that a ”substantial transformation” must happen in the U.S. for the label to be used. Specifically, the FTC states that the label “Assembled in the USA” should be the following: A product that includes foreign components may be called “Assembled in USA” without qualification when its principal assembly takes place in the U.S. and the assembly is substantial. For the “assembly” claim to be valid, the product’s last “substantial transformation” also should have occurred in the U.S. That’s why a “screwdriver” assembly in the U.S. of foreign components into a final product at the end of the manufacturing process doesn’t usually qualify for the “Assembled in USA” claim. […] Perhaps Apple is still outsourcing the manufacture to Foxconn and others, but it is actually assembling the products in a U.S. plant? To the surprise of some, Foxconn has a few locations in the U.S., but it isn’t known if they are actually making anything here. Weintraub also ...
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