A report issued by Credit Suisse this week highlighted the fact that costs of manufacturing in China are on the increase.
Average salaries for example have increased from $1,000 per annum in 2000 to nearly $4,000 in 2010. This increase, together with the cost of transporting goods to Europe and America, means that the cost base has increased significantly and importantly is likely to continue to increase.
A number of companies have invested in China principally on the basis of their low cost base. The rising cost base though is causing concern for a number of companies.
Will they be able to switch production to other low cost locations such as Bangladesh or Vietnam? They probably will be able to but it could be costly.
Will they be able to pass on these cost increases to the end consumer by way of price increases? Given that we are only just starting to come out of recession my guess is that this will be challenging to say the least.
But does all of this really come as a surprise? With the explosion of globalisation over the last couple of decades and companies manufacturing in cheaper location or “off shoring” services then surely it’s simply a case of supply and demand.
If companies set up offshore operations in a certain territory which is renowned for having, for example, good quality cheap IT skills then when other companies join them there will be a surge in demand for these individuals and wages will increase.
It will take a number of years or even generations but some people’s view is that eventually there will be very similar wage levels wherever you are in the world.
Back to the increase in wages in China though and whilst this will be bad news for a number of companies there will also be companies that will benefit from the increase in local spending power. McDonalds for example are no doubt licking their lips in anticipation at all the Big Macs that could well be sold in China in the near future.