There appears to be new momentum towards an investment in flat panel display manufacturing in the USA, as Foxconn chairman Terry Gou made a somewhat surreptitious visit to the White House last week. Gou has previously expressed his desire to build a plant here, and was quoted during the week of President Trump’s inauguration as saying about such an investment: “There is such a plan, but it is not a promise, it is a wish” (Display Supply Chain Monitor, 01.23.2017). Now as the Trump Administration has concluded its first 100 days, Gou has apparently met with White House officials.
We first received notice of this visit from a story in Nikkei Asian Review written before the meeting was to take place. According to Nikkei, Gou would meet with President Trump to discuss his acquisition of Toshiba’s memory business and plans to build “a highly automated TV panel facility” in the US. Nikkei also quotes an unnamed source in saying that “when Gou visited Washington in late February, the Taiwanese tycoon met Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner”.
While the Nikkei story predated the actual meeting, Washington Post reporter David Nakamura managed to see Gou departing the White House, leading to this tweet:
Taiwan’s TVBS and their reporter Jessica Ni managed to capture video of Gou’s departure from the White House after his visit, available at this link: http://news.tvbs.com.tw/politics/723486. In the video, Gou responds to Nakamura’s question about whether he met with President Trump: “My memory is not good; maybe I already forgot.” The Post reported that Gou’s meeting at the White House extended more than two hours, but that the meeting was not listed on the president’s public schedule released by the White House.
While there has been no public statement from Foxconn on the status of their plans for a US plant, there is great interest in the project from people within the industry and at least one US state hoping to host the large investment. At the upcoming SID/DSCC Business Conference during DisplayWeek 2017 on May 22nd at the Los Angeles Convention Center, JobsOhio has come forth to be a sponsor of the conference, and will participate on a panel session about the industry and this opportunity. In describing their approach, JobsOhio gave the following statement:
“Interest in display industry manufacturing in the United States continues to grow, and we believe there is no better destination for this industry to thrive than Ohio,” said JobsOhio Managing Director for Information Technology Ted Griffith. “Sponsoring the SID/DSCC Business Conference is an opportunity to meet with industry leaders and showcase what the advantages are of doing business here. We look forward to sharing how Ohio’s resources, location, talent and longstanding record of success make it the best location for a successful U.S. display manufacturing hub.”
For our part at DSCC, we heartily welcome JobsOhio as a conference sponsor, and look forward to a great discussion at the business conference about the industry’s future in the US.