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Made in the USA, again

October 25, 2011 - 2 Comments

Finally, some good news. Amidst the standard fare of predictions of the inevitable decline and fall of US manufacturing, an interesting and encouraging 2011 report has been authored by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) called “Made in America, Again.”

According to the report, “Manufacturing is expected to return to America as China’s rising labor costs erase most savings from offshoring.” As US states become cheaper locations to manufacture goods compared to other developed countries, the report suggests that by 2015 manufacturing in some parts of the US will be just as economical as manufacturing in China.

The key reasons listed are:

— Wage and benefit increases of 15-20% per year at the average Chinese factory will slash China’s labor-cost advantage, reducing the savings gained from outsourcing will drop to single digits for many products.

— Transportation, duties, supply chain risks, industrial real estate and other expenses will minimize cost savings of manufacturing in China compared to the US.

— Automation and other productivity improvements in China will further undercut the primary attraction of outsourcing to China: access to low-cost labor.

— Rising income levels in China will create greater demand for goods in the domestic Chinese market, driving production work for the North American market back to the US.

— Because of rising Chinese labor costs, manufacturing of some goods will shift to other low-labor cost countries. However, compared to the US, those countries do not have the infrastructure, IP protection or political stability that is necessary to mitigate risk, which will encourage manufacturers to return to the US.

BCG states that “reinvestment during the next five years could usher in a ‘Manufacturing Renaissance’ as the U.S. becomes a low-cost country among developed nations.”

If the report is correct, then the next question becomes “what does ‘reinvestment’ entail, and do we have the will to do it?”

What do you think of the report? Do you agree or disagree?

Read the full pdf here.

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  1. Well if we take this matter from the perspective of an investor it is more lucrative to manufacture and assemble products in America due to solid trade policy and targeted customers. The companies operating offshore have to comply with local regulations of the operating country in addition to bearing shipping costs and import duties etc.

    • Hi Usman,

      Thanks for commenting. You bring up a very good point. Today’s political climate abounds with commentary about what effect Federal Regulation has on US Manufacturing. One argument is that over-regulation in the US drives manufacturers to set up shop abroad. But possibly difficult regulations can exist in host countries as well, as you have noted.