“Made in China” Got a New Rival

Photo by jurvetson (Flickr.com)

WSJ reported on Sunday that the increasing salary of the Chinese labors has reduced the advantage of producing and assembling goods in China. The countries in Southeast Asia have joined together as a new manufacturing union to compete China, the largest manufacturing country in the world.

Leaders in the region are pressing ahead with plans to stitch together the patchwork of nations into a common market and production platform by 2015. If fully realized, the project will include fewer restrictions on the movement of skilled labor from country to country and streamlined customs procedures.

Southeast Asian countries are also making headway on road and rail investments. Efforts funded by the Asian Development Bank and others have created three major overland trade corridors, with improved highway connections across Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

Many companies are pursuing the same goals on their own. In the garment industry, more than a dozen Southeast Asian suppliers have reached agreements recently to more-closely integrate their supply chains by linking stitching companies in places such as Cambodia with raw-material makers in Thailand or other nearby countries. The companies effectively agree to market goods jointly so that they appear similar to suppliers in China, which often offer all the steps needed to make a whole garment, including access to yarns, fabrics, buttons and sewing, in the same area.

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