After winning U.S. government tariff exemptions on a number of Chinese-made components late last week, Apple said today that it will soon begin assembling its next-generation Mac Pro desktop computer in Austin, Texas, rather than moving the assembly process wholly overseas. The announcement is qualified good news for the U.S. manufacturing sector, which has spent decades in decline due to cost and speed advantages offered by Asian factories.
The new Mac Pro’s manufacturing plans had been in limbo for months for multiple reasons, most notably due to reports of continued problems assembling the prior-generation model in Texas. According to those reports, Apple’s U.S. contract manufacturer Flextronics faced both staffing and component supply problems in Austin for the high-end computer, both of which would have been easy to address in more heavily industrial Chinese factory cities.
One of the issues was unexpectedly resolved last Friday, as Apple received 10 of 15 requested exemptions on Chinese import tariffs that would otherwise have covered Mac Pro components such as partially completed circuit boards — parts that enable Apple to do some assembly in China while leaving the final steps to U.S. laborers. President Donald Trump had openly shot down Apple’s exemption request, calling for the components to be made in the United States, but trade regulators apparently felt otherwise.
According to Apple’s announcement, the Mac Pro will include components made by over a dozen U.S. companies, with the value of American components now 2.5 times greater than in the prior Mac Pro. Apple notes, however, that the U.S.-built Mac Pro will be “for distribution to US customers,” leaving ambiguous whether Mac Pros assembled in America will be shipped to other countries, as well.
Apple completely redesigned the Mac Pro for 2019, setting an entry-level price of $5,999 for the base level machine without disclosing the costs of upgrades. Models with deluxe processors, graphics cards, and ample memory are expected to cost well over $10,000 before including the costs of monitors and accessories. A new Pro Display XDR introduced alongside the Mac Pro stunned viewers with its $4,999 price tag — and “optional” $999 metal stand, a price that previously bought an entire Apple monitor. Apple has not specified where the Pro Display XDR will be assembled.