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Sources say in the First Half of This year, Japan's Sharp may break ground on $7 billion U.S. plant

Sources say in the First Half of This year, Japan's Sharp may break ground on $7 billion U.S. plant
Taking the lead on a project initially outlined by its Taiwanese parent Foxconn, Japanese display maker Sharp Corp may start building a $7 billion plant in the United States in the first half of 2017, several media reported quoting a person with knowledge of the plan.
The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to travel to the United States to meet U.S. President Donald Trump amidst Trump’s promise to put "America first” which he had made during his inaugural speech and the decision by Foxconn to give Sharp the lead would come as Abe  is to hold talks on trade with the U.S. president very soon.
Sources that are privy to the knowledge reportedly said that Abe will unveil investments to create as many as 700,000 U.S. jobs in a package Tokyo hopes will please Trump.
"The investment will be by a Japanese consortium that will also include manufacturing equipment makers," said the person, who was not authorized to speak with media and so declined to be identified.
No decision on building a plant had been made, said a spokesman for Sharp.  There were no immediate comments from Foxconn, formally Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd.
He was considering investing around $7 billion to build a display-making plant in the United States, but did not elaborate on any time frame, Terry Gou, the chief executive of Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics maker, had said last month.
Foxconn had been considering the plan for years, said Gou. Foxconn also operates plants in China that make most of Apple Inc's iPhones. When business partner Masayoshi Son, head of Japan's SoftBank Group Corp, talked to Gou before a December meeting Son had with Trump, the issue had come up, he said.
When Foxconn bought two-thirds of the Japanese liquid crystal display pioneer, Foxconn last year took control of Sharp.
By criticizing the scarcity of U.S. cars in its auto market, Trump has raised concerns in Japan. He has also lumped Japan with China and Mexico as big contributors to the U.S. trade deficit and has also accused the Tokyo government of using monetary policy to devalue its currency.
Following a meeting on Friday in Washington, Abe and Trump will play golf when Abe visits Trump at his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida over the weekend.
As the Japanese government compiled a plan to ward off U.S. criticism of Japanese trade policy before the summit, Abe’s meeting with Trump would follow a meeting Abe had last week with the head of Toyota Motor Corp. Japan may increase energy imports from the United States, Abe also said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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