News / Asia

Higher Production Costs Shift Chinese Manufacturing

Staff members work on the production line at the Foxconn complex in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, Southern city in China, May 26, 2010
Staff members work on the production line at the Foxconn complex in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, Southern city in China, May 26, 2010

Multimedia

Audio
Heda Bayron

For decades, China’s factories have supplied the world with cheap goods - from denim jeans to desktop computers. But export prices are expected to go up as Chinese manufacturers are battered by higher wages, more expensive raw materials and an appreciating currency.

iPhone to invest in Brazil

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, China's President Hu Jintao, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L-R) pose during the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) s
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, China's President Hu Jintao, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L-R) pose during the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) s

During her recent visit to Beijing, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff said Foxconn International Holdings, the company that manufactures Apple’s popular iPhone, plans to spend $12 billion building factories in her country.

For some time, Foxconn has been expanding outside of its traditional manufacturing base in southern China, shifting north to Hebei province, to cut costs. The company, which employs hundreds of thousands of workers in China, reported a loss for 2010 because of higher production costs.

Companies opt out

Companies increasingly are moving out of southern China’s manufacturing hub in the Pearl River Delta as profits decline.

Stanley Lau is managing director of Renley Watch Manufacturing Company. He also heads the Pearl River Delta Council of the Hong Kong Federation of Industries.

“Wages are going up. The minimum wage has gone up by about 20 percent in 2010. And again this year wages have gone up by 20 percent roughly," said Lau. "When you look at any part of the world, I think you cannot find any other place with such kind of increase in wages.”

What is more, he says, the cost of raw materials such as cotton, plastics and electronic components, is rising. Although the Chinese currency has been rising against the dollar, which could help ease rising costs for imported raw materials, manufacturers say even locally made materials are getting more expensive. China’s inflation rate reached 5.4 percent in March, the highest in nearly three years.

At the same time, the yuan’s appreciation, which the United States and other Western nations say is essential to reduce China’s trade imbalance, makes Chinese products more expensive overseas.

Export prices to increase

Li and Fung, a Hong Kong sourcing company that supplies the U.S. retailer Wal-Mart and other global retail chains, says Chinese export prices will increase as much as 15 percent this year. Company executives last month warned that Chinese goods are entering a new era of rising prices.

The challenges Chinese exporters confront are not new. They have been ramping up over the past two years. In 2008, China implemented a new law that increased factory workers’ salaries. At that time, manufacturers warned that many of them would be forced to close because of rising wages.

Pansy Yau, deputy chief economist of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, says Chinese exports have stayed strong since then.

“When we look at the share of China export in Europe and the [United] States, we find that the import share from China continues to increase. It proves that China is not only competing on cost because after all these years the wages in China are already higher than some Southeast Asian countries and other low-cost countries,” said Yau.

The Chinese government has been encouraging manufacturers to move factories to poorer inland regions as a way to distribute economic development. Lau says not all industries can do so because they rely on the efficient supply chain in southern China, near other factories making needed components.

Southern China is blessed with deep ports that allow access for container ships bringing raw materials and carrying finished products to the rest of the world. Also, electricity and water supply are stable. Moving factories inland could prove costlier than staying put because companies may have to pay more in shipping costs.

Relocating to Vietnam, Indonesia

When it comes to moving overseas, the Federation of Industries’ Lau says it will be easiest for textile manufacturers to relocate to places like Vietnam and Indonesia, because the infrastructure is already there.

“Years ago when they had a problem with the [export] quotas, many textile industries moved part of their production to these countries in order to get a better quota for their textile products," said Lau. "So there’s a good set up in those countries. For the other industries like electronics, plastics, the watch and clock industries, it’s more difficult because if you’re going to move you need the whole supply chain to move together with you. You will have problems in the delivery of parts.”

At the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, economist Yau says the pinch that Chinese exporters are feeling could well reverberate in supermarkets and shops across the world. She says it is inevitable rising costs will be passed on to customers.

“Once they can prove that their product is good and [has] value for money, then they have the bargaining power to ask for a price increase,” added Yau.

China’s ruling Communist Party has made clear it wants to hold the line on prices - for goods sold at home and abroad. The government is working to tamp down inflation to make sure high prices for food and housing do not spark unrest. And Beijing has moved slowly on its pledge to let the yuan trade more freely - fearing that a sharp gain in the exchange rate could make exports even more expensive, forcing factories to close and eliminate jobs.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs