An excellent article from Reuters http://reut.rs/jyJxvS cited a recent study that the next few years will bring a wave of reinvestment by U.S. multinational manufacturers. For a number of years Americans have watched products formerly manufactured in the U.S. be outsourced to China along with the jobs that went with them.
Nothing lasts forever right? As China’s economic boom matures its own citizens are becoming true consumers and filling its own demand will become even more critical to the Chinese economy. Think about it – it was not possible for many years for the Chinese to sell Chinese made products to Chinese people. Labor was cheap, as was real estate and the main issue was the time and expense of shipping goods overseas to the west in general.
So many things have changed. The rising income of the Chinese (although there is a long way to go for many and a two tiered climate of haves and have-nots is emerging in China – where have we heard that before?) and skyrocketing energy costs being primary factors.
As I’ve noted manufacturing has already begun to move out of China to other places in Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines for example). Africa has yet to take hold as a manufacturing center but conditions today in many African countries do offer opportunities similar to those found in China thirty plus years ago.
So what might happen? Well as the article notes, U.S. manufacturing could see a big rebound. Even with the recession the U.S. continues to have a consuming based economy – we like and even feel a ‘need’ to buy things. American ingenuity is still a force to be reckoned with, so with innovation and efficiency remaining a premium the cost-benefit of manufacturing and shipping within the U.S. will make an increasingly better value proposition.
The Chinese are well aware that American-made products remain the standard by which much of the world measures manufacturing. As Chinese wages increase, so will costs to make products, and they will be less inclined to ship (or dump as some would say) products into the U.S. market.
As this process has been unfolding for a number of years it’s often hard to see any rainbows when there are black clouds all around. But perhaps it won’t be long before Americans can look ahead and not feel so threatened by Chinese-made products and feel good and confident in making and buying products made in the U.S.A. since they will be good products at competitive prices.
Isn’t that what we all really wanted in the first place?