Gordon Chang predicts that the United States will reclaim its lead in manufacturing (or hold it, depending on how you count things) relative to the Chinese:
Robotized production in China is no cheaper than robotized production in, say, Texas or California, where Foxconn maintains manufacturing facilities. And so it should come as no surprise that, as Foxconn replaces humans with machines, Apple CEO Tim Cook told NBC’s Brian Williams on Thursday that next year his company will manufacture one of its Mac computers in the U.S.
Even though Cook’s announcement could have been “political”—a “token gesture” as one observer in Hong Kong sniffed—it nonetheless is part of a broader narrative of factories fleeing China. After all, Apple is not the only company to recently announce it was “onshoring.” Lenovo, China’s largest maker of PCs, in October said it would move some computer manufacturing to its North Carolina facility, and General Electric has been transferring production back to Appliance Park in Louisville. Small- and medium-sized manufacturers are started to return to the U.S. as well.
American manufacturers, in short, are gaining on the Chinese. Boston Consulting Group has predicted that around 2015 it will become more economical to manufacture in the U.S. than China in seven industrial sectors. American workers are more productive and less likely to strike than their Chinese counterparts. Moreover, as suggested above, transportation costs are much lower and delivery times far shorter when goods are made here. And energy is substantially cheaper in America.
I’ve got it! Let’s reduce the productivity of American workers, encourage them to strike, and increase the cost of transportation and energy. Yeah, that’s the ticket.