FEW US, JAPANESE AND FRENCH FIRMS LEAVING CHINA
The United States, Japan and France are prodding their companies to rely less on China to make the world’s smartphones, drugs and other products. But even after the coronavirus derailed trade, few want to leave China’s skilled workforce and efficient suppliers of raw materials to move to other countries, Joe McDonald wrote for the Associated Press (AP) late on June 30, 2020.
Disruptions from the pandemic, on top of the US-Chinese tariff war, fueled warnings that relying too much on China leaves global companies vulnerable to costly breakdowns in the event of disasters or political conflict. Drug makers stand out as one industry that is trying to reduce reliance on Chinese suppliers by setting up sources of raw materials in the United States and Europe. But consumer electronics, medical devices and other industries are sticking with China.
“I don’t know of a single company right now that is moving ahead with any plans to move,” said Harley Seyedin, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in South China. China’s explosive rise as the world’s low-cost factory helped to hold down consumer prices and boosted Western corporate profits. But it has fueled political tension over lost American and European blue collar jobs. Governments and industry consultants fret that utter dependence on China can be a threat to supply chains and possibly national security.
Chinese factories assemble most of the world’s smartphones and consumer electronics and a growing share of medical equipment, industrial robots and other high-tech goods. This country is a dominant supplier of vitamin C and ingredients for antibiotics and other medicines. The ruling Communist Party has spent two decades building ports, railways, telecom networks and other facilities that are regarded as among the world’s best. “China still offers an unparalleled supply chain for any industry,” said Jit Lim of Alvarez & Marsal, a management consulting firm. Philip Richardson, who manufactures loudspeakers in Panyu, near Hong Kong, said he has looked at Vietnam and other countries. But he said while their wages might be as low as 60% of China’s, the savings will be eaten up by the cost of giving up his network of Chinese suppliers.