Crouching Tiger, Hidden Opportunities
Cheap, easy and fast. That's how the world likes it and that's how China delivers it.
China is winning the game when it comes to manufacturing products, including those in the printing industry. According to data released in March by IHS Global Insight, the United States handed over its place as the world's top manufacturer to China last year.
China assumed a 19.8 percent (or $1.995 trillion in U.S. dollars) share of total manufacturing in 2010, a dramatic increase compared to that of 6.9 percent a decade ago.
China may be strangling the U.S. manufacturing sector, but it's not dead yet. The U.S. continues to topple China when it comes to productivity rates and production methods, but that's not enough. China's production and manufacturing sector will continue to grow and so will those of other countries. When it comes to the print industry, professionals say U.S. print manufacturers need to recognize, represent, build relationships and adapt to continue competing.
Where the Paper Industry Stands Today
Currently, international printers have a fundamental advantage over those in the U.S., according to Terry Hunley, acting president of the Americas for Singapore-based Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), a major exporter of coated paper from China and Indonesia.
"Paper can represent 30 percent to 50 percent of a print job's cost. Paper is less expensive outside the U.S. because tariffs and environmentalists have artificially raised the cost of imported paper. Since 2008, the U.S. printing industry has lost more than 75,000 jobs, and the number continues to increase. But, to preserve their sales here at any cost, three of North America's largest paper producers recently won a legal battle to impose tariffs on coated paper from both China and Indonesia, artificially raising the price," he said. "These tariffs have disrupted paper supplies, raised the cost of paper and forced many customers to seek cheaper printing solutions in Canada, China or Mexico—or [to] forgo printing some printed products altogether. By sourcing their print jobs internationally, companies here benefit from lower paper and production costs while avoiding the artificial mark-ups imposed by tariffs."