Apple is reportedly relocating some production of MacBooks to Vietnam, a move that has been planned since 2020, with the initial batch of its popular laptop computers expected to roll out from the Southeast Asian country as early as May next year.
Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest electronics manufacturing services provider, has been tapped by the US technology giant to assemble its MacBooks in Vietnam, according to a report on Tuesday by Nikkei Asia Review.
Before this move, the MacBook remained the only major Apple product that was solely manufactured in mainland China. It has taken longer to move MacBook assembly lines outside China owing to the product’s complex supply chain, the report said.
In November 2020, Taiwan-based Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, was reportedly planning to move some iPad and MacBook assembly to Vietnam from China at the request of Apple because of the escalating trade war between Beijing and Washington. Foxconn had earlier announced a US$270 million investment to set up a new subsidiary in Vietnam.
The new MacBook assembly lines are located at Foxconn’s plant in Vietnam’s northeastern Bac Giang province, situated 50 kilometres to the east of the country’s capital Hanoi.
As of June, Foxconn employed about 60,000 people in Vietnam, which is now the company’s largest manufacturing base outside China.
Apple and Foxconn did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Production of MacBooks in Vietnam reflects the efforts made by Apple and prime supplier Foxconn to quickly establish new supply chains across Asia amid the snap lockdowns and other Covid-19-related issues that have disrupted manufacturing in China.
Foxconn, which is Apple’s main iPhone supplier, has been scrambling to restore full production capacity at its manufacturing complex in Zhengzhou, capital of central Henan province, following severe disruptions including worker protests that turned violent and the exodus of tens of thousands of employees.
The company had earlier put its MacBook production site in Chengdu, capital of southwestern Sichuan province, under an “anti-Covid bubble” that had its 110,000 assembly line workers strictly follow certain job schedules and commuting paths within the compound to help minimise the risk of infection, according to a report published in September by Taiwanese magazine Global Views. Other employees who lived outside the compound were asked to work from home.
Production of the MacBook is under Foxconn’s Business Group B, which is responsible for wearables, tablets, laptop computers and smart speakers. It has operations in the cities of Chengdu, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Hengyang.
While it remains uncertain how much MacBook production will be moved outside China, a recent report from Counterpoint Research indicated that Foxconn plans to shift up to 30 per cent of its total manufacturing capacity to India, Vietnam and Brazil.
There were already 21 Apple suppliers with operations in Vietnam as of September this year, according to Counterpoint.
Total MacBook shipments are expected to reach 22.18 million units this year, according to market intelligence firm Digitimes Research. That total would represent a 1.4 per cent decrease from 2021, as other major personal computer brands such as HP, Dell and Lenovo Group see double-digit declines. South China Morning Post