SMALL BIZ INFO & RESOURCES
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Monday, November 03, 2003
Offshore Manufacturing Benefits Large Businesses and Consumers, Hurts SMBs
When manufacturing jobs go offshore, who benefits? Large American businesses and American consumers, that's who. But not small and medium-sized businesses.
That's according to a thoughtful article by Jon Markham. He dares to brave protectionist backlash and speak openly about a sensitive subject.
He points out that it is large American corporations like Motorola and Ford -- and consumers of their products -- who enjoy the benefits of cheap offshore labor, through lower manufacturing costs and lower consumer prices. "American, Japanese and other foreign companies with manufacturing operations in China account for nearly half of the goods being exported by China into the world market. *** It's not much of an exaggeration to suggest that the largest Chinese company in the world is Wal-Mart, which makes its popular house-brand goods there."
Chicago economist David Hale observes: "the major complaints from corporate America on China are coming from small or medium-sized companies that don't have the capital to invest in China or penetrate its market. ...if Beijing were to simply improve market access for small companies there would be fewer trade protectionist demands."
Clearly, SMB manufacturers without access to cheap labor in China and other places may find themselves at an increasing cost structure disadvantage compared to their larger counterparts. This will continue to be a thorny problem for SMBs.