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Regional Spotlight on Tianjin – “A diversified economic hub in northern China” 11/18/2011

China Manufacturing Assistance

The federal municipality of Tianjin, China is located an hour and a half outside of Beijing, on the coast of the Bohai Bay. Its prime location has attracted many of the world’s top enterprises including Motorola, Toyota, Samsung, Nestle, and LG.

As the fourth largest port in mainland China, Tianjin is a regional hub for shipping and logistics industries, both of which are supported by its close proximity to the national capital, Beijing. Leading industries in Tianjin include mobile phone, aerospace, alternative energy, and automotive production.

In addition to Tianjin, Understand-China.com includes many detailed investment guides for the top manufacturing regions. Ready to Explore? Start Now! It’s Free!

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Understand-China 2011 Update Complete 7/25/2011

understand-china.com1ChinaBlog is pleased to announce the new and improved Understand-China.com. Through extensive research, the website has been refreshed and updated to provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date information available for businesses and investors looking to do business in the China. Understand-China’s vast network now contains over 250 pages of information with additional features and has taken more than 300 hours and 6 weeks to update.

Understand-China continues to be the only one-stop-shop website providing concise and relevant information for companies looking to do business in China, invest in the Chinese marketplace, set up greenfield operations in one of China’s industrial regions, or understand the Chinese manufacturing industry.  Updates include new data for the 24 top regions including statistics for each of their Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), Gross Domestic Products (GDP), Logistical Data, Real Estate information, Industrial Expenses, Labor Costs and various other categories of data. For several excellent examples of updated data, please view the provincial profiles of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Hong Kong. Understand-China also includes twenty other provinces, special economic zones and Chinese special administrative regions.

Please let us know what you think of the update!

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China Builds World’s Longest Sea Bridge 6/30/2011

China Opens Jiaozhou Bay BridgeOn Thursday, June 30th, China announced the opening of the world’s longest cross-sea Bridge. The Jiaozhou Bay Bridge connects China’s Eastern port city of Qingdao with the island of Huangdao and is a mere 26 miles long. Bridges of this size don’t come cheap… even in China. The 110 foot-wide bridge required more than 5,000 support pillars and cost upwards of USD $1.5 billion.

The Jiaozhou Bay Bridge took more than four years to build but is anticipated to cut travel time between the two cities in half. Approximately 30,000 cars will drive over this bridge each day.

Maybe they will even hold marathons across it one day… talk about a nice view.

Photo Courtesy of Associated Press

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Central China’s Water Woes 5/18/2011

China Drought newsThe United States is not the only country with water issues. A harsh drought in Central China along the Yangtze River region has left maybe people and fields thirsty.  The Hubei Province currently has almost 1,400 reservoirs that are temporarily unusable from the low supply of water available. Certain areas along the river are coming close to record lows.  A five month drought in China doesn’t only affect the land. Droughts have a negative domino effect not only on the people, but on trade routes, livestock and crops. In today’s global marketplace, it is likely that world prices for commodities could rise as shipping becomes more time consuming and agriculture production is hindered.

Conditions have gotten so bad, that the Three Gorges Dam was called up to make its second emergency discharge in order to ease the drought. The Three Gorges Dam is the single largest hydroelectric project in the world and released 400 million cubic meters of water during early May. This large discharge is meant to help ease shipments traveling along the Yangstze and ease concerns for the people of the nearby cities.

Reports have shown that last week, more than 300,000 people and 90,000 livestock in Hubei were short on drinking water. Farmland was not spared either, with more than 2 million acres that have been affected by this season’s droughts. The drought has also affected nearly the nearby province of Hunan has at least 300,000.

Hopefully some much need rain will show up in the upcoming weeks.

As of Saturday, the drought had left 315,000 people and 97,300 livestock in the Hubei short of drinking water, and more than two million acres of farmland had been affected, Xinhua reported. In neighboring Henan Province, the drought had affected at least 320,000 people.

hubei map

New Source

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Monumental Spring Canton Fair Comes to an End 5/6/2011

The 2011 Spring Canton fair came to a close yesterday, May 5th. This year’s import and export fair is considered a monumental session in the event’s 50 year history. Held each year, in Spring and Autumn, businesspeople from all over the world pour their way through the 55 million square meter facility over the course of the 15 day event in Guangzhou. The deals transacted from this session totaled more than 36 billion U.S. dollars, up 5.8% from last year’s Spring session. The fair attracted a record number of foreign traders as well; more than 207,000 foreign traders from more than 150 countries passed through the fair this year.

Although there were fears of this year’s numbers being down due to the economic conditions, business transactions this Spring were very much so on the rise.

The amount of exports with some of the big players rose quite a bit this year. Buyers from the United States entered into 12.4 percent more deals than last spring. European buyers also increased their transactions by 14 percent. Even more impressive than that are the number of deals enacted with the emerging markets of Brazil and Russia, that rose 30 percent this year.

Other countries however saw a decrease in transactions for various reasons. Reports have indicated that trade dropped by 19 percent with Japan due to the various reasons associated with the recent disasters.

Overall, the largest trade fair in China was another giant success. If anyone has any stories or pictures from this Spring’s show, we would love to see them!

Sources:

http://english.cri.cn/6826/2011/04/21/1461s633505.htm\

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90778/90861/7371496.html

http://www.china.org.cn/business/2011-05/06/content_22506711.htm

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The Chinese Grow Closer to French Wine 4/19/2011

china wine importsChina was the world largest consumer and importer of Bordeaux wine in 2010. That is astonishing to me, considering that French-style red wine has only recently began to draw a significant following amongst Chinese consumers.

According to the Bordeaux Wine Council, China imported 33.5 million bottles of Bordeaux wine last year. That is $475 million USD worth of French wine tingling the palates of Chinese wine lovers. China in fact, has become much more of a wine-oh country in the last six or seven years. They now import over $1 Billion USD worth of wine, which is more than four times the amount imported in 2004.

If you have your own label, (I wish I did) I would highly consider formulating a market entry strategy to break into what could quite possibly be the world’s largest wine market very soon.

China is also in the midst of a large wine expo, called the “2011 Wine China Exhibition” located in both Beijing and Shanghai. The events began on April 17th and will continue through April 20th, ending in Shanghai. Wine from all over the world will be celebrated, tasted and enjoyed. If you are interested in learning more, here is the exhibition’s site. I definitely plan on attending one of these years.

China Wine Import Stats

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China is Nuts for American Pecans 4/18/2011

China Agriculture- Pecan DemandThe word is out. Chinese consumers have gotten wind of the wonderfully tasting and healthy nut, the pecan. After several segments on Beijing TV and other local TV stations on the health advantages of pecans, Chinese consumers have began to expand their nut repertoire.  And where can they find these fine nuts? America, that’s where. Approximately two-thirds of the world’s pecans are produced in the United States.

Demand for American pecans in China has been so strong, that prices have nearly doubled in the last three years. According to the USDA, the average price of shelled pecans in 2007 was around $1.00/pound and last year, in 2010, prices jumped to nearly $2.25/ pound.

This increase in demand has led to a large shift in American pecan exports. As you can see in the chart, in 2005, total exports were only 30% (China being only 1% of that.) And only four years later, China grew to nearly 30% of our exports, bumping up total exports to more than 50% of domestic production.

And demand is showing no sign of waning. Total production numbers, however, have not yet began to be affected due to the nature of the pecan tree. It takes ten years for a pecan tree to begin producing any sizable amount. And even then, the trees have alternating “on” and “off” years. So as more farmers start to up their acreage of pecan trees, we will have to be patient and shell out for our favorite holiday pies and fruit cakes.

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China & US March Manufacturing Rates Rise 4/7/2011

China U.S. manufacturingDespite fears that China’s efforts to decrease inflation would decrease economic growth, the production numbers still indicate a rise in China Manufacturing this March. March’s Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) rose from 52.2 in February, to 53.4 in March.

According to economists, China’s central bank will increase interest rates again this quarter to further curb inflation. Some argue that this will eventually hurt China’s overall economy in addition to slowing the growth, but only time can tell.

The manufacturing sector in the United States also grew this past March. It was the 20th consecutive month for manufacturing growth. In fact, it was also the 22nd consecutive month for overall economy growth as well. The PMI for March was 61.4 percent, which is down from February’s 61.4 percent, but any number above 50 indicates growth. The economy also grew by 3.1 percent during the last quarter of 2010.

Source 1

Source 2

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China’s 12th Five Year Plan is Formed 4/7/2011

China's five year planLast month, China’s newest Five Year Plan (FYP) was developed at the Annual Sessions of China’s National People’s Congress. At the center of the 12th FYP is possibly their most ambitious energy goal to date. The new plan calls for a reduction of energy intensity by 16 percent over the next five years. As the goal is quite bold, it is possible considering that during the previous FYP, China managed to reduce energy by 20 percent.

Other goals of the FYP include a plan to reduce pollution and reduce China’s dependency on fossil fuels. China is aiming to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 17 percent and to increase the use of non-fossil fuels from 8 percent (current state) to 11.4 percent in 5 years.

When it comes to implementation, China has decided to encourage development and foreign investment in industries that will increase their ability to move towards these green goals. They will be executing programs to support growth in the high-end manufacturing industries such as clean energy, various service industries and environmental protection.

Of course, there are supporters and opponents of the newest FYP. Supporters of the plan include environmental protection groups and clean energy groups who are encouraged by China’s step towards a greener country. Some opponents say however, that the plan could be too ambitious and that some of the other goals included in the plan may be conflicting with their green initiatives; such as the target to build upwards of 40 new airports over the next five years.

Ambitious or not, achievable or not, changes are on their way for foreign investors and where different incentives will be placed in the upcoming years.

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Vietnam & India Sourcing: Advantages and Disadvantages 3/2/2011

China India Flags

So you are already sourcing from China…have you ever thought of sourcing from India? What about Vietnam? Are buyers trending away from China? What are the advantages and disadvantages of sourcing from other developing countries like these? Let’s explore!

A survey was recently released by Global Sources reporting on how China’s increasing labor costs and the fluctuation of the yuan have impacted buyers’ sourcing strategies overseas.

Over 380 buyers were surveyed and more than 50 percent of respondents said they have seen higher prices as a result of the yuan’s appreciation. But are they changing their strategy? The answer is yes… somewhat.  More than 50 percent of buyers say they are planning to step up their sourcing from India and Vietnam sometime in the future. (It did not indicate whether or not they plan to decrease their China sourcing however.)

The truth is: Vietnam and India are becoming increasingly attractive for foreign enterprises due to their low-cost and abundant labor supply.

What does this mean to American companies?

Places like Vietnam and India could be a viable option for your company if you specialize in low-end products. Industries that are labor intensive can also be successful in these countries due to the large labor pool (bigger than China’s) and the low cost of labor. Industries like textiles (clothes, shoes, sheets etc) have been successful at increasing savings by moving production to countries like India where the workforce is robust and there is a large percentage of English speaking workers (20% higher than China’s workforce). Also, India’s income tax will decrease this year in order to be more competitive with China.

Although the numbers do indicate an uptick in sourcing from these developing countries, do be forewarned: This is not the ideal plan for everybody. India and Vietnam are still in their youth, and fall short in a number of critical manufacturing areas in comparison to the United States and China. The traditional means to becoming a manufacturing powerhouse no longer stand alone. Not only will a country need to be strong in labor, energy and materials, but the country will also need to have a strong-willed work force with innovative thinkers.

Another critical aspect that must be taken into consideration is the different countries’ logistics infrastructure.  The logistics infrastructure in China for example is much more developed and sophisticated than in India or Vietnam.  We typically find that sourcing from China is much more efficient because of the hundreds of billions of dollars invested over the last 20 years in roads, highways, ports and airports.  With that being said, if quick turn-around and reliable, timely shipping and receiving are a must for your business, China might be a better choice.

China India Vietnam
Total Airports 502 352 44
Major Ports 130 12 14
Railways 77,834 km 64,015 km 2,347 km
Roadways 3,583,715 km 3,320,410 km 171,392 km

It is to be noted however, that although India has the third largest road network in the world, about 2.6 million km or almost 75 percent of their roads are considered rural. Travel by roadway in India is also often times considered dangerous; people do not abide by traffic laws, roads are bumpy and uncared for and traffic is intensely crowded. In fact, the National Highway make up only 2% of the nation’s roadway length, but handles about 40 percent of the roadway traffic.

Beyond logistics, the 2nd most common issue when looking beyond China is your raw material supply chain.  As nearly every major industry’s supply chain has shifted to China over the last 20 years, so have the raw materials companies/suppliers.  When evaluating a move away from China, it’s important to understand whether or not your source of raw material is available in your next destination.  If you don’t, you very well may end up finding out that while you are benefiting from cheaper labor elsewhere, you are offsetting those savings by your increased logistics and duties costs as you ship your raw materials in from China.

China also excels at supporting large-scale investment projects – something that Vietnam and India struggle with due to their infancy in the manufacturing arena as well as the large government bureaucracies that you must deal with.  If a company wanted to expand and build a new facility to ramp up production in China, it could take 6 months, whereas in India it could take 2 to 3 years.

In conclusion, China is still the manufacturing powerhouse for most, and will remain so for quite a few years to come.  However, we are likely to see a shift in the type of manufacturing China is involved in. They are now encouraging investments in high tech industries and research and development enterprises. Their goals is to move towards a more sophisticated manufacturing region that can garner higher wages and eventually propel more and more people into the coveted middle and upper classes.

We would love to hear how your company’s overseas buying strategy has changed (or hasn’t changed)!

Sources:

http://www.globalsources.com
http://www.2point6billion.com/news/2011/02/17/china-india-compared-by-al-jazeera-8606.html
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703800204576159410421853214.htmlhttp://www.business-in-asia.com/ports_in_vietnam.html

http://understand-china.com/?manufacturing=logistics-4

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/Story/110495/Cover%20Story/wealth-does-not-create-roads-rather,-roads-create-wealth.html

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