Hailing “great economic success” during the first 18 months of his administration, U.S. President Donald Trump is calling for more companies to be like Taiwan’s electronics component manufacturer Foxconn and invest in the United States.
At a groundbreaking event for the foreign company’s latest and largest investment in the upper Midwestern state of Wisconsin, Trump described the planned $10 billion manufacturing facility “as the eighth wonder of the world.”
That may be a generous exaggeration, but the plant is one of the largest foreign direct investment projects ever in the United States.
“We are demanding from foreign countries, friend and foe, fair and reciprocal trade,” Trump said, as he defended his confrontational trade policies and hailed further direct investment in the United States by manufacturers from other countries.
Trump hailed Foxconn’s decision to increase its investment in Wisconsin, while criticizing a plan by an iconic American company in the same state to move some production overseas in response to retaliatory tariffs planned by European companies in response to the president’s punitive import taxes.
“Harley-Davidson, please build those beautiful motorcycles in the USA,” Trump said. “Don’t get cute with us.”
The president added: “Your customers won’t be happy if you don’t.”
Trump defended tariffs he has imposed on foreign steel and aluminum, proclaiming that “business is through the roof” in the United States as a result.
The primary focus of Trump’s remarks on Thursday was Foxconn’s decision to build flat-screen, liquid crystal display panels in Racine County, Wisconsin.
The maker of components for and assembler of Apple iPhones was offered what is described as the largest financial incentive ever for a foreign company by a U.S. state.
Wisconsin is giving Foxconn $3 billion in tax credits and other incentives. In exchange, the state expects to see the facility create thousands of jobs.
Trump spoke in front of a giant video display that said “USA Open for Business” after touring an existing Foxconn facility at the Wisconsin Valley Science and Technology Park.
Foxconn’s founder and chairman Terry Gou told the audience that during each of his several previous meetings with the president, Trump always emphasized “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Added Gou, “He truly cares about improving the lives of the American people.”
The new plant, which will take two years to build and employ 10,000 construction workers, will include a 1.8 million square meter campus situated on 1,200 hectares. Foxconn has promised that the LCD facility will eventually employ up to 13,000 people.
Not everyone in the state is overjoyed about what is being billed as a transformational project for Wisconsin’s economy, better known for dairy products than high technology.
The state’s legislative bureau predicts it will be a quarter of a century before Wisconsin receives enough tax revenue to match its initial investment. And others are raising concern about its environmental impact.
“Building the Foxconn factory complex on prime farmland in rural Wisconsin constitutes a textbook example of unsustainable development,” said David Petering, distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Petering told VOA News the facility will be a “major source of a variety of harmful air pollutants that will put nearby residents at risk and contribute to climate change. In addition, it will need to break the Great Lakes Compact law to get millions of gallons of water from Lake Michigan.”