Sharp and Foxconn set to build $7bn LCD screen factory in US

Japanese display maker Sharp may build a $7.1bn plant to make LCD screens in the US in the first half of 2017, taking the lead on a project initially proposed by its Taiwanese parent Foxconn, Reuters reported yesterday.

The plant, which it is claimed would create as many as 700,000 American jobs, is being seen by commentators as an attempt by Japan to fit in with President Trump’s economic nationalism, and would precede a state visit to Washington by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

A spokesperson for Sharp told Reuters that no decision on building a plant had been made, however one of the company’s executives told the Nikkei Asian Review yesterday that the project would go ahead, with Sharp in the lead.

The executive also suggested that Sharp may ask companies outside the Foxconn group, which owns a 66% stake in the Japanese company, to invest in the new plant.

The idea for a joint investment plant was floated in January by Terry Gou, Foxconn’s chairman and chief executive, but he did not give any time frame for the project. He said the issue came up when his business partner, Masayoshi Son, head of Japan’s SoftBank Group, talked to him before a December meeting Son had with Trump.

Sharp aims to have the plant operational by the end of 2020.

Foxconn operates plants in China that make most of Apple’s iPhones, and has reportedly been considering the plan for years.

Image: Sharp’s 90-inch Aquos screen (Sharp)

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