The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced via its blog that it has begun the manufacturing process for its ARM GNU/Linux machine in Taiwan and China. Besides citing prohibitive UK taxes on electronic parts (there's no tax on products already assembled and shipped into the country), the group chose manufacturers in Asia because the turnaround will be three weeks – as opposed to thirteen weeks.
Ultimately the amount of money it would take to make the hardware coupled with an extra cost of around $5 a unit if it was made in the UK helped the group make up its mind to get its product put together outside the country. They lament about this at length on the official blog:
"Simply put, if we build the Raspberry Pi in Britain, we have to pay a lot more tax," reads a post on the foundation's blog. "If a British company imports components, it has to pay tax on those (and most components are not made in the UK). If, however, a completed device is made abroad and imported into the UK – with all of those components soldered onto it – it does not attract any import duty at all."
"This means that it's really, really tax inefficient for an electronics company to do its manufacturing in Britain, and it's one of the reasons that so much of our manufacturing goes overseas. Right now, the way things stand means that a company doing its manufacturing abroad, depriving the UK economy, gets a tax break. It's an absolutely mad way for the Inland Revenue to be running things, and it's an issue we've taken up with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills."
The Raspberry Pi Model B units are in production now. This model offers enhanced ram and ethernet capabilities over Model A. The first run of this device will be off productions lines at the end of January. We'll let you know when that happens.
Update: Mechatama31 makes a valid point. Model A is not a previous production model, nor is Model B a revision of that model. We've corrected the story to reflect that fact.