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Global Manufacturing Undergoes Monumental Shifts, Reveals BCG

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by Sakthi Prasad , Director - Content
10 October 2023

global manufacturing

In a world where the manufacturing landscape is being reshaped by disruptions such as trade wars, the pandemic, natural disasters, and geopolitical uncertainties, companies are reevaluating their production and sourcing strategies to navigate through these tumultuous times. A recent publication from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) sheds light on the significant shifts occurring in global manufacturing and provides insights into how companies are adapting to these changes.

Manufacturing Moving Away from China

One of the pivotal findings from BCG's research highlights a significant migration of manufacturing away from China. Over 90% of North American manufacturers have relocated some production from China in the past five years, a trend driven by a combination of geopolitical uncertainties and high U.S. tariffs. Furthermore, a similar percentage of manufacturers plan to continue this migration in the upcoming five years, signaling a sustained shift in global manufacturing dynamics.

The Rise of New Manufacturing Hubs

As manufacturers seek alternatives to China, several regions are emerging as potent contenders in the global manufacturing arena. Mexico, Southeast Asia, and India are surfacing as the next export manufacturing powerhouses, each offering a blend of competitive cost structures, abundant labor pools, and burgeoning industrial capabilities. Additionally, nations like Morocco and Turkey are strategically positioning themselves to expand their export manufacturing, leveraging their competitive costs and geographical proximity to various markets.

Mixed Results from Manufacturing Migration

Despite the widespread migration, the outcomes have been mixed for manufacturers. BCG's research indicates that only about 55% of respondents have fully realized their objectives, such as achieving cost savings and securing better access to labor, through their production relocations.

Strategic Realignments in Global Manufacturing

The motivations behind these global shifts in manufacturing are multifaceted. While the pursuit of lower costs remains a primary driver, companies are also placing a premium on shortening lead times, operating in stable business environments, and enhancing flexibility to respond to future disruptions. This indicates a strategic realignment, where manufacturers are weighing a broader spectrum of factors to formulate their production and sourcing strategies.

Industry-Specific Implications

BCG underscores that the optimal manufacturing footprint varies across industries, necessitating strategies that support the unique starting points, products, and strategic objectives of each sector. While multiple countries offer capacities and capabilities that can yield cost savings across the value chain, the attractiveness of a particular country will hinge on its role in a specific product’s value chain and its alignment with strategic priorities.

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