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Asian manufacturers looking closer to home for new business

Source:USA TODAY     Date:2011-12-14
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By Kathy Chu, USA TODAY

HONG KONG – Weakening European demand is forcing Asian manufacturers to drum up business closer to home.

Chinese manufacturers are marketing at trade shows in hopes of attracting domestic buyers for the late-January Chinese New Year's holiday. They're also launching a campaign — called "Made by Hong Kong" — to "promote a Hong Kong lifestyle that many Chinese aspire to," according to Dennis Yau, director-general of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, which represents 3,000 manufacturers, most with factories in China.

Elsewhere in Asia, manufacturers are trying to tap regional demand. In Jakarta, Sumatra Coffee Luwak is increasingly focusing on markets outside Indonesia such as China, Singapore and Thailand. Philippines-based Fruits of Life has begun marketing its coconut water in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia.

Fruits of Life hopes to start exporting to Europe but fears that the economic turmoil could hurt its ability to do so: "If there's a crisis, everyone will be affected, and buying power will go down," said Sonia Tan, general manager at Fruits of Life.

The U.S. housing meltdown and Europe's debt crisis are pushing exporters to diversify beyond slow-growing advanced economies. In a survey this year by the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong, nearly 60% of the 213 respondents said they were selling products to the mainland, while another 20% plan to do so.

Asian governments are also acting to boost domestic, intra-regional and emerging-market demand, says Ganeshan Wignaraja, principal economist in the Asian Development Bank's Office of Regional Economic Integration.

Indonesia is cutting interest rates to make credit affordable to businesses, while China and South Korea are holding interest rates steady. The Chinese government has given small and midsize enterprises tax incentives and eased bank reserve requirements in some cases to boost lending to these entities.

Within East Asia, trade is already growing, making up 12.7% of the region's gross domestic product in the last two years, compared witNike kyrie 2 Rainbow

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