News / Economy

Manufacturers in China Search for the Next Low-Cost Base

Multimedia

With the revaluation of the yuan and a wave of wage increases, manufacturers in southern China are finding themselves under pressure to reduce costs.  The new economic climate is forcing factories to move inland, and others to leave China altogether.

Just like the 1980's when factories closed down in Hong Kong and moved to China's Guangdong province, today manufacturers in southern China are looking for the next low-cost base.

Cliff Sun, chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, an organization that represents 3,000 companies, most with manufacturing facilities in China, says costs in southern China's export hub are rising.

"The recent pay rise has a significant impact on a lot of small and medium enterprises as the cost of manufacturing becomes higher.  When they have to compete with other manufacturers in the mainland, if the cost of manufacturing keeps going up, that means their customers are going to give them less orders," Sun said.

The Guangdong provincial government raised the minimum wage by 21 percent in May. Labor strikes at Toyota and Honda plants in recent weeks only added pressure on wages.

And last month, China allowed the yuan to strengthen against the dollar, for the first time in nearly two years. That means Chinese exports are becoming more expensive overseas.

Sun expects at least 3,000 factories in the Guangdong area, still staggering from the global financial crisis, will not survive.

"It's not easy…. Some of our members are diversifying. They're integrating their manufacturing facilities from, for example, Shenzhen manufacturing base, shifting some of the labor intensive production, jobs into neighboring provinces like Jiangxi, Hunan, Sichuan." said Sun. "If that can be done, at least they're going to survive."

Beijing has been pushing exporters to move to the poorer inland regions, as a way to narrow the rural and urban income gaps.

But inland factories may face other problems. When factories move inland where wages are lower, suppliers may not be able to catch up said Standard Chartered Bank's regional economist Kelvin Lau.

"The layout of many of these manufacturing cities or towns is that a big factory is usually surrounded by many of the suppliers that they worked with…. The third way out in the face of rising cost is to actually relocate outside of China," said Lau.

And that is what some manufacturers have been doing in recent years - opening factories in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia, where costs are lower.

Sun said Hong Kong companies in the mainland are looking for opportunities to move labor intensive activities to southeast Asia.

"They can consider the Asian countries like Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia - these are Asian countries that are not financially developed, their labor cost is still relatively inexpensive. You are talking about maybe $80 per month for casual worker, which [compared to] China, I think in Shenzhen, you have to pay twice as much or more."

Vietnam has invested in infrastructure such as ports and roads and dangled incentives to foreign companies.

Abe Junji runs a Japanese shoe factory outside Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City. He thinks the future is good here because the government has made it easier for foreign investors to come to the country, granting them tax incentives.

But it may fall short of what China can offer, said Standard Chartered's Lau.

"There are also other considerations that they have to take into account. For example, whether the logistics or the infrastructure support is comparable to what they get in China," Lau said.

At Li & Fung, a major Hong Kong company that is one of the biggest suppliers of consumer goods to large overseas retailers, executives acknowledge that China's low-cost era may be over.  But they expect the country to be a dominant exporter for years to come. Li & Fung said China remains the biggest source of the company's products, with $8 billion in goods a year. The second biggest, Vietnam, supplies just $1 billion of merchandise.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9118
JPY
USD
124.31
GBP
USD
0.6420
CAD
USD
1.3048
INR
USD
64.136

Rates may not be current.