China loses crown in low-cost manufacturing to India, Mexico
China has lost its position as the world’s lowest-cost components manufacturer to India and Mexico, a study indicated on Wednesday, in a blow for the Asian giant as it fights the financial crisis.
The United States has also significantly closed the gap to the degree that China’s total manufacturing costs are now only 6 per cent below those of American factories, the study by AlixPartners business consultants indicated.
"Gone are the days when companies could see cost savings of 30 per cent or more by making 'no-brainer' manufacturing-footprint and outsourcing decisions, to China in particular," said Stephen Maurer, a managing director at the firm.
The company, which specialises in helping distressed businesses, compiled its Manufacturing-Outsourcing Cost Index by analysing a basket of manufactured components and assembled parts, ranging from small motors to die castings.
It compared the cost of making the items in China, India, Brazil and Mexico versus the US, tracking changes over three years in factors such as labour, overheads, exchange rates, transportation, and raw material costs.
The index showed major shifts in costs over the past six months that pushed China down the rankings and Mexico now on top, the firm said in a statement.
It predicted China's costs would improve in the second half of 2009, as more moderate oil prices and the economic slowdown reduced sea shipping costs, but added the country was unlikely to catch up with India and Mexico this year.
Manufacturing accounts for more than 40 per cent of the economy in China, which has been hit hard by evaporating demand for its products in key export markets such as the United States and Europe.
But Chinese manufacturer activity has shown signs of expanding over the past two months after nine months of contraction.