Sunday, 27 February 2011

Over to you Africa...


"We are still getting orders from abroad, all the factories are," said Wei. "But no one is taking them because we would make a loss. The foreigners do not want to pay a reasonable price. We have not made any profits for two years."

 So reports the Sunday Telegraph in a piece about the impact of economic growth, higher wages and cost pressures on Chinese clothing manufacturers. And the big deal here is that the businesses can't produce the clothes cheaply enough to satisfy the cost demands of Western brands and retailers.

Now, however, the Chinese factories have hit a wall. The workers who were once happy to work for as little as £30 a month now want ten to 15 times that sum.

Young men with the latest mobile phones and foppish hair cuts stood around two outdoor pool tables on the streets of Dadun avenue, gambling on the games. Their factory is only paying them for six hours a day in a bid to trim its costs.

More and more workers are choosing not to travel to the South to find work, preferring to try their luck at one of the new factories or construction projects popping up in inland China, where life is cheaper and they can be closer to their families.

Familiar? Yet the first response is to suggest that the answer is for us to pay more for our jeans!

The days of so-called "throwaway fashion", where stores could sell garments cheap enough to be worn for a just a few months and then discarded, could be over, he said.

"Companies should be very scared, as throwaway fashion is now dead," he claimed. "For years they wanted to get more and pay less. They have pillaged the system in China. But now they are going to suffer."

Elsewhere in the world there's a huge continent with millions of people crying our for economic opportunity, crushed by the agricultural protection of Western democracies and patronised by aid NGOs.

It's called Africa - I reckon they'd be pretty good at making jeans? Don't you?


1 comment:

SadButMadLad said...

What comes around goes around. There will always be another place that can manufacture a widget cheaper than the current place. First the west, then it moved to Japan, then Asia, then to China. Now it's looking like Africa is next. India and Brazil are possible candidates for future source of cheap products.