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Global Treasury

Reshoring Could Help Treasury

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May 01, 2015

Foreign investment boosts reshoring as offshoring continues to slow.

Closer look smallThe increase in new manufacturing jobs in the US continued apace in 2014, combining to outshine the jobs lost to outsourcing, according to the Reshoring Initiative (RI), but a majority of the new jobs stemmed from foreign companies opening up shop.

Outsourcing always had the potential to transfer risk, management and compliance to third parties who may not be regulated, and who may operate offshore. So the reshoring production trend could help reduce those risks, along with decreasing transportation and other costs treasury has to fund. It may also reduces foreign-exchange and supply-chain risks that treasury departments are finding increasingly challenging to hedge.

The US has gone from losing upwards of 140,000 manufacturing jobs per year to gaining 10,000 or more per year on average over the last decade, according to the RI. It estimates that in 2003, the country lost 150,000 jobs to offshoring while new reshoring and FDI resulted in a gain of 12,000 jobs. In 2014, that trend was reversed when as many as 50,000 jobs were lost to new offshoring and 60,000 were created onshore, resulting in the net gain.

The RI was founded in 2010 and aims to enlighten manufacturers that in some cases local production can reduce costs. While its offshoring numbers are estimates, it tracks reshoring and foreign direct investment (FDI) activity to calculate those numbers. It found that reshoring activity is fairly balanced between high- and low-tech manufacturing, generating 6,763 and 4,875 new jobs, respectively, with the bulk of new jobs, 22,654, coming from product technology at the medium-high level. Higher technology production typically involves more investment, more research and development, higher pay, and less risk of loss to low wage countries.

The number of new jobs stemming from FDI was higher across the board, nearly double those from reshoring at the high end, at 13,005. The medium-high product technology level again provided the bulk of the new jobs, 27,800, while the number of jobs at the medium-low level created more than triple those resulting from reshoring, 18,076 compared to 5,238. FDIs at the low product technology level created 6,271 new jobs.

The study found that reasons for reshoring and FDI are similar, although reshoring places higher emphasis on the “Made in the USA” image, automation, and re-design of the product. FDI, instead, places greater emphasis on government incentives and a skilled workforce. The study notes that US companies are typically reshoring production from low-wage countries, and so they strive to minimize labor costs here. Foreign companies, on the other hand, tend to be considering larger projects and can be recruited by all 50 states, hence the importance of government incentives.

The RI tracks actual cases of reshoring, and its study notes that five of its top six reshoring industries are on the list of projects anticipated to be reshored by Boston Consulting Group, based on factors including wage rates, productivity and total cost. Transportation and electrical equipment topped the list, with 13,823 and 9,240 jobs, respectively. The next industries drawing the most jobs back to the US appliances, computer/electronics products, machinery, and apparel/textiles.

In terms of FDI, transportation equipment was far in the lead, resulting in 25,145 new jobs, followed by fabricated metal products at 8,408 jobs, and plastic/rubber products at 6,389 jobs.

The study found more than half of reshoring was from China (14,273 jobs) followed by Mexico (5,363), India (1,975), Japan (1,920), and Canada (1,431). Germany created the most new jobs from FDI (17,653 new jobs), followed by China (10,415), Japan (6,376), Korea (6,032), and Canada (4,190).

South Carolina easily beat out other states in terms of new jobs stemming from reshoring, with 7,530, followed by Texas, Kentucky, Georgia, and Tennesee, each seeing more than 3000. Southern states, with lower wages and union participation, also saw the most jobs created by FDI, with Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia and Georgia topping the list.

The RI report notes that reshoring efforts are underway in many countries, sometimes motivated by government policies. In its first effort to capture that trend, RI found the United Kingdom topping the list, bringing home 32 companies, followed by Canada with 12, Japan with three, and Kenya with two.

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