Apple declined to comment. In the past, the company has called itself “an engine of economic growth in the United States.” Last year, it spent $60 billion with 9,000 American suppliers, helping support 450,000 jobs.
In the 1980s, Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder, wanted to make Apple computers in the United States. He was fascinated with manufacturing trailblazers like Ford and Sony, and wanted to pave new ground for American manufacturing with a California factory that churned out the new Macintosh computer. Apple built the state-of-the-art plant in 1983.
“It wasn’t great for business,” said Randy Battat, a former Apple engineer. The factory closed in 1992, in part because sales of the Mac computer never met the company’s expectations.
Apple later discovered that outsourcing its manufacturers would be far cheaper and faster and provide it with more flexibility when sales fluctuated. Mr. Cook, Mr. Jobs’s deputy, helped build the company’s sophisticated global supply chain, which sources parts from around the world, including the United States, mostly for final assembly in China. The innovation was one of the keys to Apple’s enormous growth, and it helped elevate Mr. Cook to succeed Mr. Jobs as the company’s chief executive.
But Apple’s dependence on China has, at times, caused problems. It has drawn scrutiny of Apple’s use of low-wage labor and elicited criticism from some customers and politicians.
So in 2012, Mr. Cook announced on prime-time television that Apple would make a Mac computer in the United States — the first Apple product in years to be manufactured by American workers. The $3,000 Mac Pro would come with an unusual inscription: “Assembled in U.S.A.”
But manufacturing the Mac Pro near Austin, Tex., quickly turned out to be a headache. Former employees who worked on the project said the plant was understaffed and materials were regularly out of place. Most important, the team struggled to get the parts they needed on time, such as tiny screws. While China has a huge manufacturing infrastructure that can produce enormous quantities of parts overnight, the Mac Pro team was relying on a 20-employee machine shop in Lockhart, Tex., that could produce at most 1,000 screws a day. The computer was delayed and the screws eventually came from China.
Last month, news broke that Apple would manufacture its new Mac Pro in China.
The president has long pushed Apple to make more of its products domestically. He and Mr. Cook met at the White House in March, in a meeting in which Mr. Trump famously called Mr. Cook “Tim Apple” as television cameras rolled.