US Manufacturers Not Coming Back To North America, Says New Poll

A new poll this week showed more than 70% of U.S. firms operating in Southern China are considering delaying further investment in the country and are moving manufacturing facilities to other countries as the trade war deepens, said Reuters.

According to the poll by the American Chamber of Commerce in South China, which surveyed over 200 companies, U.S. firms operating in China warned - they are experiencing extreme difficulties from trade disputes than firms from other countries.

64% of the companies said they were planning to relocate supply chains outside of China, but only 1% said they would consider establishing manufacturing bases in North America.

“While more than 70% of the U.S. companies are considering delaying or canceling investment in China, and relocation of some or all manufacturing out of China, only half of their Chinese counterparts share the same consideration,” the AmCham report said.

As the trade war deepens, supply chains in China are being forced to shift to Southeast Asia, the survey found.

U.S. firms reported that trade wars have increased competition from rivals in Vietnam, Germany, and Japan; while Chinese companies said they faced increased competition from Vietnam, India, the U.S., and South Korea.

Harley Seyedin, president of AmCham South China, told Reuters that customers are slowing down orders or not placing them at all. An ominous sign that global growth is now waning and a possible worldwide recession could be near.

“It could very well be that people are holding back on placing orders until times are more certain or it could very well be that they are shifting to other competitors who are willing to offer cheaper products, even sometimes at a loss, in order to get market share,” he said.

“One of the most difficult things about market share is once you lose it, it is very hard to get back.”

The survey found that wholesale and retail sectors have suffered the most from U.S. tariffs, while Chinese retaliatory duties have punished agriculture-related businesses. 

The survey was conducted between Sept. 21 and Oct. 10, shortly after the Trump administration slapped another $200 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods. Beijing then retaliated with additional tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. products, with risks of a full-blown trade war in 2019.

Nearly 85% of U.S. firms said they have suffered from the combined tariffs, compared with just 70% of their Chinese counterparts.

One of the biggest concerns from all respondents was the rising cost of goods sold, which resulted in declining profits.

"One-third of companies estimated the trade dispute had reduced business volumes ranging from $1 million to $50 million, while nearly one in 10 manufacturers reported high-volume business losses of $250 million or more," said Reuters.

The survey also found evidence that export-heavy Chinese cities and provinces have entered into an economic slowdown because of the trade war.

Guangdong, China’s largest province by gross domestic product, reported a drop in exports in the first eight months from a year earlier.

While the trade war is causing supply chain disruptions and leading to waning global growth momentum, it seems global stock markets have caught wind of the danger.

The selloff in October could finish as the worst month for MSCI’s all-country index in seven years -- with declines now exceeding 15%.

The global bear market is now spreading, from China to broader emerging markets to European autos and banks and almost 65% constituent stocks of MSCI’s all-country world index. Even the FANG+TM index of U.S. and world tech stocks joined the bearish party.

$8 trillion has been already wiped off of global stocks as the threat of a full-blown trade war increases for 2019. This also comes at a time when the Federal Reserve and ECB show no sign of reversing their tightening programs and China stimulus is not working. Storm clouds are gathering.