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中国能否留住高科技制造业?

作者:未知 来源:未知 2015-10-08 我要评论( )

Will tech manufacturing stay in China?

中国能否留住高科技制造业?

In the past few weeks, the world has been clearly alerted to the many ills of the Chinese economy. But China watchers have been eyeing one worrisome strain for years—labor. The low labor costs that fueled Chinese growth have more than quadrupled since 2006, and labor unrest has also been growing.

过去几周,中国的各种“经济病”令全球惴惴不安。但对研究中国问题的专家来说,他们关注其中某一日趋紧张的问题已有多年,那就是——劳动力。自2006年以来,一度是中国经济增长助力之一的低劳动力成本已经翻了超过两番,劳资争议事件也日益增多。

That has led some manufacturers, following the same logic that brought them to China in the first place, to move towards still-lower labor cost countries, like Bangladesh and Laos. More surprising, the Boston Consulting Group found in 2014 that more than 50% of manufacturing executives were at least considering shifting manufacturing back to the U.S., whose low-wage regions BCG projects to move within 10 to 15% of cost parity with China, while allowing for better service of the American market.

这导致一些制造商开始向劳动力成本依然保持在较低水平的国家迁移,比如孟加拉国和老挝等,其遵循的逻辑和他们当初进入中国时别无二致。更令人震惊的是,波士顿咨询公司发现,在2014年,至少有超过50%的制造业高管在考虑将业务搬回美国。据波士顿咨询推算,美国一些低薪地区与中国的劳动力成本差距在10-15%以内,而且可以更好地服务于北美市场。

It’s widely believed that the recent devaluation of the yuan was a move to keep costs down for international producers.

外界普遍认为,最近的人民币贬值目的之一,便是降低跨国制造商的成本。

“They’re trying to make sure they don’t have a mass exodus,” says Mickey North Rizza, VP at BravoSolution. “That’s only going to be controlled for so long.”

供应链服务商百沃公司副总裁米奇•诺斯•里扎表示:“中国在努力确保不会出现大批制造商外迁。但这种情形只能被控制住一段时间。”

Low-cost, low-capital manufacturers, such as apparel producers, have already left China in droves, moving not just to southeast Asia, but increasingly the Middle East and Africa. Labor is a larger portion of their costs, and it’s more affordable for them to maintain high inventories to insulate against disruptions. And the move itself is a snap.

一些低成本、低资本的制造商,比如服装生产商,已经开始陆续离开中国迁向东南亚,甚至有越来越多的生产商迁移到了中东和非洲。劳动力在这些公司成本中所占的比重更大,对它们来说,通过保持高库存来抵消生产中断带来的损害也更为划算。而且搬迁本身可以很快完成。

“They take some basic machinery, they put it in a shipping container, and they set up again,” explains Shay Scott, managing director of the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee.

田纳西大学全球供应链研究院常务董事谢伊•斯科特解释称:“他们带上一些基础设备,装到集装箱里运走,然后重新安装起来就可以了。”

Tech manufacturers, though, face a more complex calculation. Observers say that for them, the next ten years may be less about chasing cheap labor, than about diversifying sources and serving regional markets.

但高科技制造商需要考虑的问题却更加复杂。观察家们表示,对于高科技制造商来说,未来十年的重点不应该是追逐廉价劳动力,而是将外包多元化,并致力于服务区域市场。

“If you rewind 15 or 20 years, companies were using the low labor cost to make what we have always argued were oversimplified business cases,” says Scott. “I think companies are learning from experience that there are a number of other factors that are a bit harder to quantify.”

斯科特表示:“回溯15或20年前,很多公司曾利用廉价的劳动力成本,展开一些备受争议的过于简化的业务。而现在,我认为许多公司从以往的经验中发现:有许多其他因素是更难以量化的。”

One of those is infrastructure. Sundar Kanak, VP at SAP’s Ariba supplier network, says that the first global companies to set up shop in China spent years dealing with shoddy roads and electrical grids.

其中之一便是基础设施。隶属于SAP旗下的Ariba供应商网络副总裁桑达尔•卡纳克表示,首批进入中国开店的跨国公司,曾花了多年时间来应对劣质的公路和电网问题。

“China has overcome some of those challenges,” says Kanak, “But at the expense of cost.”

卡纳克表示:“中国已经解决了很多诸如此类的挑战,但代价是成本高了。”

Electricity, for instance, has become both more reliable, and more expensive, ratcheting up 15% annually for the last six years, according to Kanak. That’s a particular headache for power-hungry tech manufacturers—but not as much of a headache as the unreliable grids of less-developed countries.

卡纳克举例称,供电变得更可靠了,但也更加昂贵,过去六年,中国的电费上涨了15%。对于电力需求量较大的高科技制造商来说,这的确很令人头疼,但相比欠发达国家不可靠的电网所带来的麻烦,这个问题还可以忍受。

Those rising wages, too, have their own counterintuitive pull. For a start, they reflect greater worker skill. And as more Chinese enter the middle class, they become consumers of the devices they’re producing. In early 2015, Apple sold more iPhones in China than in the U.S. for the first time, one more good reason to keep making them in China.

工资上涨背后,也有一些违反直觉的推动因素。首先,这反映出更熟练的工人技能。并且,随着越来越多的中国人进入中产阶级,他们也在成为自己生产的商品的消费者。2015年初,苹果iPhone手机在中国的销量首次超过美国,这也是苹果将制造工厂留在中国的原因之一。

For a time, manufacturers explored splitting the difference by pushing further into inland China, where labor costs are lower—but the greater risks, Scott says, have kept that experiment from gaining serious traction. It’s a particular nonstarter in tech, where transportation risk greatly increases inventory costs.

一度,作为一种折中的方法,一些制造商们也曾尝试进入劳动成本较低的中国内陆地区,但斯科特认为,其中所蕴含的更大的风险使得这种尝试难以流行开来。这种做法对于高科技制造商来说更是不切实际,因为运输风险将导致库存成本大幅上涨。

And a chip fabrication plant isn’t as easy to relocate as an apparel factory. Moving makes the most sense when technology cycles demand major plant changes—but those cycles can be ten years long. There are also choices to be made, though, when companies expand production, and that seems to be where China is now most vulnerable.

一家芯片制造厂并不像一家服装厂那么容易搬迁。只有当出于技术周期变更需要进行大规模的工厂革新时,搬迁才是有意义的,但技术周期的持续时间可能长达十年之久。不过,公司在扩大生产规模时,也很有可能会选择迁址,这似乎是中国的一处弱势。

The recent Tianjin port disaster says less about problems particular to China, than about the inherently risky nature of manufacturing too far away from the market. Rather than chasing low cost, tech manufacturers are thinking about operating regionally and keeping supply chains shorter—for instance, manufacturing North American goods in Mexico or South America.

最近的天津港爆炸事件所暴露的,与其说是中国特有的一些问题,不如说是供应链距离太远的制造业存在的内在风险。高科技制造商现在正在考虑的是区域化运营和缩短供应链——例如,在墨西哥或南美生产供应北美市场的商品,而不是一味追逐低成本。

“Some companies call it ‘best sourcing,’” says North Rizza.

诺斯•里扎称:“有些公司将这种作法称为‘最优外包’策略。”

But even regionalization may not be the full extent of future manufacturing shifts. Improving global communication infrastructure, including more flexible cloud-based inventory solutions, are making it easier for companies to find and integrate new sources. That’s one factor contributing to the rise of contract manufacturing, helping companies build supply chains that can change much more rapidly than ever before.

但光是区域化运营并不能道尽未来制造业全部的转变趋势。全球通信基础设施的不断改善,包括更灵活的基于云的库存解决方案,使各家公司更容易找到和整合新的外包供应源。这成为促使合同制造兴起的一种因素,可帮助公司建立起能够比以往更快速变更的供应链体系。

All of which may mean not only that Chinese high-tech growth is at an end, but that there will be no more regional manufacturing booms as concentrated, powerful and sustained as China’s has been.

所有这一切不仅意味着中国高科技制造业的增长将走到尽头,也意味着再也不会出现像中国这样集中、强大和持续的区域制造业繁荣。

重点词汇学习:

infrastructure ['infrə,strʌktʃə]
n. 基础设施;公共建设;下部构造

manufacturer [,mænju'fæktʃərə]
n. 制造商;[经] 厂商

labor ['leibə]
n. 劳动;工作;劳工;分娩vi. 劳动;努力;苦干vt. 详细分析;使厌烦

high-tech ['hai'tek]
adj. 高科技的,高技术的;仿真技术的n. 高科技

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