Friday, August 26, 2011

China's Exports Moved Up the Value Ladder, EIU Report Underlines Dragons at the Door Thesis

Exports no longer only from coastal provinces
Photo:  Danny Friedmann
'Heavy duty, China's next wave of exports', is a insightful concise report (17 pages) from the Economist Intelligence Unit. It sheds light how the Chinese equipment manufacturing industry is climbing the value ladder. The first waves of exports were dominated by textiles and electronics and took place in the coastal provinces. The manufacturing for this coming export wave takes place in China's hinterland (for example Sany, Zoomlion, Sunward from Changsha, Hunan province, before Xugong from Xuzhou, the coastal province Jiangsu was most prominent in construction-equipment manufacturing), and as of 2012 it will not be driven by foreign direct investment but by domestic companies. Whether this shift in export activity from the coast to the hinterland is enough to bridge the gap in income inequality remains to be seen. The majority of the exports go to developing countries, or so called non-members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2012.

The report reads like the empirical support of professors Williamson and Ming's great book Dragons at your door, see IP Dragon's Book Review. Because although the report makes clear that the developing countries  mostly prefer low technological solutions, it also tells that it gives the Chinese manufacturers, that use innovation to produce at lower costs and offer more variety, the economies of scale so that the Chinese companies can offer higher technological solutions to more developed markets later on and become formidable competitors of companies such as Caterpillar. In other words the companies in the OECD can expect some enormous competition in a not too far future, and they should ask themselves some strategic questions, such as:
  • Can we afford to stay out of these emerging markets that will make giants of our Chinese competitiors?
  • Should we try to be more innovative by making a more sophisticated product or should we try to be more innovative by making the product in a more sophisticated way and by doing so, make the product cheaper and in more varieties?
  • How can we harness these innovations in patents?
Read the EIU report here (after registration free pdf)

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