China Outsourcing Manufacturing to USA

Chinese firms bargain hunting in U.S.

Liu is investing $10 million in the Palmetto State, building a printing-plate factory that will open this fall and hire 120 workers. His main aim is to tap the large American market, but when his finance staff penciled out the costs, he was stunned to learn how they compared with those in China.

Liu spent about $500,000 for seven acres in Spartanburg — less than one-fourth what it would cost to buy the same amount of land in Dongguan, a city in southeast China where he runs three plants. U.S. electricity rates are about 75% lower, and in South Carolina, Liu doesn’t have to put up with frequent blackouts.

About the only major thing that’s more expensive in Spartanburg is labor. Liu is looking to offer $12 to $13 an hour there, versus about $2 an hour in Dongguan, not including room and board. But Liu expects to offset some of the higher labor costs with a payroll tax credit of $1,500 per employee from South Carolina.

“I was surprised,” said the 63-year-old president of Shanxi Yuncheng Plate-Making Group. “The gap’s not as large as I thought.” Liu is part of a growing wave of Chinese entrepreneurs expanding into the U.S. From Spartanburg to Los Angeles they are building factories, buying companies and investing in business and real estate.

True this is still a relatively small macro economic factor. However, it is growing. The primary push so far is economic – not a move to lean manufacturing (as far, as I can tell) to put manufacturing close to the customer. What is the biggest factor? The USA is spending more than $400 billion every year more than it produces. The only way to consume more than you produce is to borrow (and take an obligation to pay back those that lend you money) or sell the stuff you own to those that are producing more than they are consuming. China is producing more than $200 billion more than it consumes every year.

For decades foreigners have taken debt from Americans that promise to pay back later (to pay for what they consumed). Now many are deciding that these debts are not attractive investments and are looking to own productive assets in the USA (companies, factories…). Which is smart on there part in my opinion.

Related: The Budget Deficit, the Current Account Deficit and the Saving DeficitMoving Jobs to Silicon Valley from India$2,540,000,000,000 in USA Consumer DebtHow to Keep the USA ManufacturingTop 10 Manufacturing Countries 2006

Warren Buffett’s 2004 Annual Report:

Should we continue to run current account deficits comparable to those now prevailing, the net ownership of the U.S. by other countries and their citizens a decade from now will amount to roughly $11 trillion. And, if foreign investors were to earn only 5% on that net holding, we would need to send a net of $.55 trillion of goods and services abroad every year merely to service the U.S. investments then held by foreigners. At that date, a decade out, our GDP would probably total about $18 trillion (assuming low inflation, which is far from a sure thing). Therefore, our U.S. “family” would then be delivering 3% of its annual output to the rest of the world simply as tribute for the overindulgences of the past. In this case, unlike that involving budget deficits, the sons would truly pay for the sins of their fathers.

From the original article:

But the Beijing government’s $5-billion stake in Morgan Stanley and $3-billion investment in the private equity firm Blackstone Group brought China’s overall investments in U.S. firms to $9.8 billion in 2007, up from $36 million the year before, according to Thomson Financial.

By comparison, U.S. investment in China was $2.6 billion last year, down from $3 billion in 2006, said China’s Ministry of Commerce. But many Chinese entrepreneurs prefer to keep a low profile, and experts say those figures don’t include a lot of investment activity happening under the official radar.

This is showing how low investment in companies in the USA by Chinese has been. Hundreds of billions of dollars has been invested in USA debt each year (largely US government debt). Another thing I like about the original article is the positive view the investor has of manufacturing in the USA. From our previous post, New Look American Manufacturing:

And does National Association of Manufacturers think the USA is good at nothing? Don’t manufacturers here benefit from being the USA? What cost advantages does that give them? I think being a manufacturer in the USA offers huge advantages as well as some challenges. The prospects are good.

One thought on “China Outsourcing Manufacturing to USA

  1. That’s interesting that land is more expensive in China than in the US. I always thought land was fairly inexpensive there. Of course what really gets companies over the long run is the labor costs. Lower wages over the course of many years would more than make up for the higher cost of land. It’s too bad, but this is the main reason why jobs get outsourced so often.

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