These jobs are likely going to stay in Asia because regional countries have significantly subsidized production, e.g. hard drives, chips, to such a degree that it’s unlikely to be dislodged. But there are some strong market signals being sent here. The Trump Effect is working.
Global consumer electronics makers HP, Dell, Microsoft and Amazon are all looking to shift substantial production capacity out of China, joining a growing exodus that threatens to undermine the country’s position as the world’s powerhouse for tech gadgets.
HP and Dell, the world’s No. 1 and No. 3 personal computer makers who together command around 40% of the global market, are planning to reallocate up to 30% of their notebook production out of China, several sources told the Nikkei Asian Review.
Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Sony and Nintendo are also looking at moving some of their game console and smart speaker manufacturing out of the country, multiple sources told the Nikkei Asian Review. Other leading PC makers such as Lenovo Group, Acer and Asustek Computer are also evaluating plans to shift, according to people familiar with the matter.
Tech companies’ plans, spurred by the bitter trade battle between Washington and Beijing, have not changed despite the truce that was struck between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at last weekend’s Group of 20 summit in Osaka. Multiple sources said the situation was still too uncertain, while rising costs in China were also prompting manufacturers to examine alternatives.
Apple is exploring the cost implications of moving up to 30% of its smartphone production, Nikkei reported last month. Elsewhere manufacturers of servers, networking products, and some key electronics components are shifting out of China, often at the request of U.S. customers.
Builders of key data center servers — Quanta Computer, Foxconn Technologyand Inventec — have all moved some production out of China to Taiwan, Mexico and the Czech Republic to avoid the threat of additional tariffs and to assuage customer concerns over U.S. claims of potential national security risks. “After the tariffs on Chinese goods … took effect on Sept. 24, we started to manufacture and ship servers outside of China from October,” said an executive of a Taiwanese server manufacturer.
The moves are sparking concerns over job losses in China and the country’s economic growth, which has already hit its slowest pace since 1990.
There are a few things going here.
1. The tariffs are creating economic uncertainity. There’s been some goal-scoring by lefties about how little impact the tariffs have had on the PRC economy. But the effect is more of a slow burn. China’s economy didn’t turn into a monster overnight. The effects won’t be felt immediately due to the scale of the supply chain. But there are signs of it on the horizon.
2. China’s labor costs aren’t as attractive as they used to be. Between the IP theft, the spying, and the security issues, staying is not as appealing as it used to be.