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Ahead of US election, Foxconn's Gou says Wisconsin investment is on

Factory in battleground state remains largely unbuilt

U.S. President Donald Trump takes part in a groundbreaking ceremony with then-Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, right, and then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, at a factory site in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, in June 2018.   © Reuters

TAIPEI -- Terry Gou, the founder of Apple supplier Foxconn, has disputed reports the Taiwanese manufacturer had scrapped plans to build a factory in the U.S. state of Wisconsin.

"Foxconn will remain committed to the completion and continued expansion of our project and investment in Wisconsin as long as policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels remain committed to Foxconn," Gou said Monday in a rare statement as a private individual.

The statement comes ahead of a U.S. presidential election that lets American voters pass judgment on the economic record of Donald Trump, who courted Gou's Foxconn as an investor in American manufacturing early on in his term. Wisconsin is a battleground state that Trump won in the 2016 election.

Gou's declaration is seen by some as cheerleading for Trump, whom he credited with paving the way for the investment by suggesting Wisconsin.

"Foxconn reasserts it will continue to work with President Trump and state and local government officials to create more jobs and to attract new investment to Wisconsin," Gou said.

When Foxconn announced the plans for the U.S. liquid crystal display factory in 2017, it called for a $10 billion investment. At the groundbreaking the following year, the project was described as creating more than 10,000 jobs.

Since then, plans for the factory have been revised several times, and the facility remains largely unbuilt. Critics have pointed to a lack of progress on Foxconn's investment and job-creation commitments.

Then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican ally of Trump's who backed subsidies for the Foxconn project, went on to lose his gubernatorial re-election bid. His successor Tony Evers, a Democrat, later sought to revise those incentives.

Gou said in the statement that Foxconn has invested "approximately $750 million" in Wisconsin without receiving incentive payments from the state.

"The world has changed a lot since Foxconn's partnership with Wisconsin began, but Foxconn's commitment to the state has not wavered," Gou said.

"Market conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic have altered the timing of our expansion, the specifics of our manufacturing plans, and our product lines have changed. But through it all, Foxconn has pressed forward with its Wisconsin plans."

Gou, one of Taiwan's richest people, stepped down in 2019 as chairman of Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry. He declared himself a contender in Taiwan's presidential election but later withdrew his bid.

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