Brazil continues to make overtures to foreign manufacturers. Bloomberg reports that the government is considering adding tablets to the One Laptop per Child program that has seen 217,200 laptops purchased for students in the last three years. “The inclusion of tablets in the program has an important role to play in helping increase the potential of investments aimed at the production of tablets in Brazil,” Science and Technology Minister Aloizio Mercadante said in an April 27 interview in Brasilia.
Brazil has long been rumoured as an expansion site for Foxconn, which may bring its iPad manufacturing lines to Brazil, but nothing has been confirmed yet. In order to entice manufacturers to Brazil, the government plans to cut taxes on domestically manufactured products such as tablets as part of a new industrial policy designed to encourage production of high-tech goods.
While the Apple iPad 2 currently starts at $499 USD, in Brazil the prices start at 1,399 reais ($869 USD). Domestic production plus a corporate tax cut would hopefully bring the retail prices down. With a manufacturing plant in Brazil, Apple and other high tech companies could more easily reach the Latin American market.
If Apple knows that there’s a built in market for the iPad, now that tablets are included in the OLPC program, it could be another major incentive to encourage Foxconn to expand production to Brazil. With 43.9 million students in public schools and some $421 million USD earmarked for purchasing devices, it could be a great opportunity for Apple to dominate another market. I’m not sure how much Apple has a say in where Foxconn expands its business, since Apple is really just a customer of Foxconn, but considering how high profile a customer Apple is, Foxconn is sure to be paying attention.