【英语中国】涨薪潮冲击中国“制造中心”地位

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所属分类:双语中国

2011-2-17 23:46

小艾摘要: Han Zheng, the mayor of Shanghai, has just delivered a pleasant surprise to the city’s workers: their minimum wage is to rise by more than 10 per cent in April.No one will be getting rich – the new ...
Han Zheng, the mayor of Shanghai, has just delivered a pleasant surprise to the city’s workers: their minimum wage is to rise by more than 10 per cent in April.

No one will be getting rich – the new rate amounts to a less than princely Rmb1,232 ($187) a month. But Mr Han’s announcement is part of an emerging trend. Chinese officials are seeking to head off a repeat of last year’s labour unrest amid fears that persistent and rising inflation could provide a further irritant in wage discussions.

In a rash of disputes between May and August, employers were hit by strikes or other problems, including Honda’s Chinese subsidiary and some of its China-based Japanese suppliers, such as Omron.

The outcome was a wave of pay rises, notably a 30 per cent increase at Foxconn, the Taiwanese owned manufacturer of electronic products such as Apple’s iPad, after a spate of suicides drew attention to working conditions.

Shanghai is not alone in moving early to head off further unrest this year. Beijing’s municipal government raised minimum wages by 21 per cent in January, and the southern province of Guangdong is also considering a rise.

The increases are likely to reignite debate about whether China’s rising wages will prompt companies to shift production to other locations in emerging Asia. Plenty of business leaders think they may.

Matt Rubel, chief executive of Collective Brands, the US footwear group that owns the Payless shoe stores chain, is shifting a chunk of production from China to Indonesia, south- east Asia’s largest economy.

“The utopia for one stop sourcing for quality and low price has been China ?.?.?.?but utopias never last,” says Mr Rubel.

Harry Lee, chief executive of Tal Apparel, a Hong Kong garment maker, takes a similar view.

“Five years ago, if you asked me the best place to set up a factory, first would be China, second would be China and third would be China,” he says. “Today it’s very different.”

There is substantial room for doubt, however, about the long-term impact on China as an Asian manufacturing centre.

Rising labour costs in China are not a new phenomenon. Research by the International Labour Organisation suggests that Chinese wages have been outpacing the rest of Asia for at least a decade.

Chinese workers received real wage rises averaging 12.6 per cent a year from 2000 to 2009, compared with 1.5 per cent in Indonesia and zero in Thailand, according to the ILO.

At about $400 a month, Chinese workers are now three times more expensive than their Indonesian counterparts, and five times as costly as in Vietnam, although they remain considerably cheaper than in Taiwan and Malaysia.

However, that simple calculation takes no account of changes in relative productivity. Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, says World Bank data indicate productivity growth in Chinese manufacturing of 10 to 15 per cent a year since 1990.

That averages out at close to the same level as annual real wage increases over the last decade, suggesting unit labour costs may have risen very little, if at all.

Accenture, the global management consultancy, concluded in a report published on Monday that a minimum wage rise of 30 per cent would cut margins by just 1 to 5 per cent for companies with a large Chinese manufacturing base.

Noticeably, much of the discussion about production shifts relates to labour- intensive, low-margin sectors such as footwear and textiles, which have been relocating for years to Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia and elsewhere.

There is little talk, however, of shifting more complex manufacturing such as silicon chips and flat panel screens, for which labour makes up as little as 2-3 per cent of total costs.

Intel, the US chipmaker, recently opened a $1bn plant in Vietnam, and Hon Hai and Compal, the Taiwanese equipment manufacturers, have also set up assembly plants there.

However, manufacturing experts doubt that many high-tech companies are planning to abandon China – not least because many rely on suppliers who have co-located in southern China’s vast technology clusters specifically to be near their customers.

Bhavtosh Vajpayee, head of technology research at CLSA in Hong Kong, says: “It is not possible for these high-tech companies to shift much of their production to Asean countries; they just don’t have the skills and the infrastructure that is needed. It just cannot be done.”

上海市市长韩正刚刚为上海工人送上了一个惊喜:今年4月,他们的最低工资标准将上调10%以上。

没有人会因此富起来——新标准称不上丰厚,每月为1232元人民币(合187美元)。然而,韩正宣布的消息凸显了一个日益清晰的趋势。中国官员正设法预防去年的罢工潮重现,他们担心通胀率的顽固上涨,可能会给围绕薪资的讨论增加火药。

去年5月至8月期间,由于劳资纷争的接连爆发,一些企业受到了罢工等问题的冲击。受影响企业包括本田(Honda)的中国子公司,以及为该公司供货的一些在华日资公司,如欧姆龙(Omron)。

结果是,企业掀起了一轮涨薪潮,其中最为令人瞩目的是富士康(Foxconn)。在多起员工自杀事件引起人们对其劳动条件的关注之后,这家生产苹果(Apple)的iPad等电子产品的台资企业将员工薪资上调了30%。

上海不是唯一提早采取行动、以防今年再发生工潮的城市。北京市政府在1月份将最低工资标准上调了21%,广东省也正在考虑提高最低工资标准。

涨薪潮可能会重燃一种讨论,即中国工资上涨会不会促使企业把生产转移到亚洲其他新兴地区。许多企业领导人认为自己有可能这么做。

旗下拥有Payless连锁鞋店的美国鞋业集团Collective Brands正着手将相当大一部分生产从中国转移到东南亚最大的经济体——印度尼西亚。

该公司首席执行官马特?鲁贝尔(Matt Rubel)表示:“中国一直是一站式采购质优价廉商品的乌托邦……但乌托邦从来不会长久。”

香港联业制衣集团(Tal Apparel)首席执行官李乃熺(Harry Lee)与他所见略同。

李乃熺表示:“5年前,你要是问我在哪里办厂最好,我会说首选是中国,次之是中国,第三还是中国。如今大不一样了。”

然而,工资上涨会对中国作为亚洲制造业中心的地位产生多大的长远影响,很值得怀疑。

劳动力成本上涨在中国并不是新现象。国际劳工组织(ILO)的研究表明,至少十年来,中国工资的上涨速度就一直高于亚洲其他地区。

根据ILO的数据,2000年到2009年,中国工人实际工资的年均涨幅为12.6%,而印尼为1.5%,泰国为零。

中国工人目前一个月的工资大约是400美元,是印尼工人的3倍,越南工人的5倍,但仍远低于台湾和马来西亚的水平。

然而,上述简单计算没有考虑到相对生产率的变化。摩根士丹利亚洲(Morgan Stanley Asia)主席史蒂芬?罗奇(Stephen Roach)表示,世界银行(World Bank)的数据显示,从1990年以来,中国制造业生产率的年增幅在10%至15%之间。

这与过去十年实际工资的年增幅大致相当,说明单位劳动成本即使有所上升,可能升幅也非常小。

国际管理咨询公司埃森哲(Accenture)在本周一发表的一份报告中得出的结论是:对于在中国拥有大型生产基地的企业来说,最低工资提高30%,仅会使利润率下降1%至5%。

值得注意的是,有关生产转移的讨论,大多与鞋业和纺织等利润率较低的劳动密集型行业有关,而这些行业多年来原本就已经在不断向越南、孟加拉、柬甫寨等国家迁移。

至于硅芯片和平板显示屏等更为复杂的制造行业,则很少传出转移之说。在这类行业,劳动力仅占总成本的2%至3%。

美国芯片生产商英特尔(Intel)近期在越南投产了一家10亿美元的工厂;台湾设备生产商鸿海集团(Hon Hai)和仁宝(Compal)也在越南开办了组装厂。

然而,制造业专家认为,目前不会有多少高科技公司计划撤离中国,相当重要的原因在于,许多高科技公司都依赖于为了靠近客户而和他们一样坐落在中国南方庞大科技产业区的供货商。

里昂证券(CLSA)驻香港的科技研究主管巴夫托什?瓦杰帕伊(Bhavtosh Vajpayee)表示:“这些高科技公司不可能把大量生产转移到东盟国家;这些国家不具备所需的技术和基础设施。这种事不可能发生。”

译者/杨远

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