Is China Losing its Competitive Edge?

This blog entry is the first of a six-part series on China which will cover China’s productivity growth, portfolio management, geographical coverage models, talent management, post-merger integration and sales force effectiveness.

Is China Losing its Competitive Edge?

Many multinational companies are re-assessing China’s competitive advantage as a manufacturing base since labor arbitrage is becoming less compelling. Although China’s productivity gains (as measured by TFP growth) outpaced other major economies in the first decade of the 2000s, this rapid growth was interrupted by the financial crisis in 2008 and has been slowing ever since.  This is largely due to overcapacity and a “crowding out effect” caused by the massive fiscal package that Beijing put in place to offset the effects of the global financial crisis.

"Made in China" Industry Competitiveness Matrix


We believe that China is gaining momentum in higher value-added industries such as heavy machinery, information technology, and medical devices, but losing competitiveness in low value-added manufacturing to other low-cost Asian countries, even when it comes to serving the domestic market. In a workshop that I have run recently, we discussed the possibility that “Made in Bangladesh” apparel will begin to flood the Chinese market in a few years.

As China continues climbing up the value chain, more and more of its companies are expanding abroad to other emerging markets. This leads to interesting dynamics on talent requirements, intellectual property, and portfolio management.



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