Tensions between US and Chinese governments have been building for months, with only brief moments of potential relief, so it is no surprise that US companies relying on China will want to prepare for the prospect of an all-out trade war . According to Indonesia's Detikinet (via Digitimes), Apple is already preparing for a partial switch of iPad and MacBook production from China to Indonesia, a change that may begin next month.
For Apple, the challenge has been to find a manufacturing partner with sufficient experience to reliably build their products with facilities in a country that offers enough cheap labor to deliver US requirements to Apple computers. To that end, it commits itself to its long contract supplier Pegatron, who initially planned the project for Vietnam, but could not find enough workers in the country. Instead, the Pegatron subcontractor of Indonesian assembly work to the PT Sat Nusapersada in Batam, says it will send laptops and tablets to the United States for an unnamed brand.
Pegatron invests $ 300 million in Indonesian factories to transfer some of its production in China, and PT Sat Nusapersada's CEO told Detikinet that Indonesian productivity is superior to China's, with a relatively small 2% turnover rate. Apple's contract manufacturers have actually experienced volatility in their workforces, although these have been attributed so much to pay and quality of life issues as major product-demand fluctuations.
Provided they meet Apple's strict quality standards, products assembled in June may be ready for sale in the US during the fall. It would coincide with the company's previous October development schedule for new devices, as last year saw the introduction of new iPad Pros, MacBook Airs and Mac minis.
Without changes in its dependence on Chinese production, Apple is facing 25% US tariffs on products imported from China, which can significantly increase US consumer prices. Even with country-specific, tariff-dodging production switching to other countries such as Indonesia and India, the company is likely to continue to make many of its products for export to other markets in China.