Apple CEO says company is ‘looking at’ manufacturing in Indonesia

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Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is “looking at” manufacturing in Indonesia as he met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday. “We talked about the president’s desire to see manufacturing in the country, and it’s something that we will look out for,” Cook told reporters after the meeting. Widodo’s administration has worked for years to bring manufacturing to the country to power economic development, while Apple is seeking to diversify its supply chains away from China, where most of its smartphones and tablets are assembled.

The company began moving some production to countries like Vietnam, and more recently India, after shutdowns to fight COVID-19 in China repeatedly disrupted the company’s shipments. “I think the investment ability in Indonesia is endless. I think that there are a lot of great places to invest, and we’re investing. We believe in the country,” Cook said. The previous day, Cook met Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in Hanoi, where he said Apple plans to invest more in Vietnam and increase spending on suppliers in the Southeast Asian manufacturing hub.

“Given the slowing Chinese economy as well as the Chinese government’s ongoing efforts to squeeze out foreign companies and replace them with domestic brands, Apple wants alternatives for manufacturing,” said Chris Miller, an associate professor at Tufts University whose work focuses on technology and geopolitics. “It has already invested more in India and Vietnam, but it is likely looking at other partners in South East Asia for additional manufacturing and assembly operations,” Miller said.

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Cook’s visit to Indonesia came after Apple announced its fourth Apple Developer Academy in the country, to be located in Bali. The company first launched the program to train app developers in Indonesia in 2018, in the capital Jakarta. Widodo’s government has sought to leverage the country’s reserves of nickel and other raw materials to bring in manufacturing, banning export of raw commodities such as nickel and bauxite to oblige companies to build refineries domestically. Indonesia’s minister of communication and information, Budi Arie Setiadi, said Wednesday that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella would visit Indonesia at the end of April.