Trump factory jobs in China may never come back
DONGGUAN: US presidential candidate Donald Trump has pledged to bring long lost American manufacturing jobs back from China. But he may be too late, even for products that bear his family name.
A Chinese company that makes shoes for his daughter’s fashion line is moving production to Africa, where labour is much cheaper.
The billionaire tycoon has frequently accused China of stealing US jobs through unfair trade practices and currency manipulation, while simultaneously relying on the country to make Trump-branded goods.
But the kind of work that goes into making such products may never return to America, the president of major footwear producer Huajian Group told AFP.
“Some manufacturers can’t even survive in China anymore,” Zhang Huarong said, speaking in his office in the southern factory hub of Dongguan.
His company has made about 100,000 pairs of Ivanka Trumpbranded shoes over the years, according to spokesman Liu Shiyuan.
In August it filled an order for 20,000 – just weeks after Trump accepted the Republican nomination, with a speech vowing to bring jobs back to the US.
It is a goal Trump plans to accomplish by imposing a 45% tariff on Chinese-made goods, but his focus could be misplaced: Zhang has become one of a growing number of Chinese manufacturers expanding to Africa and Southeast Asia in search of lower production costs.
In 2012, Zhang opened his first factory in Ethiopia. Four years later, he is building a billion-dollar facility there. Its production lines are already humming.
Low-wage, low-skilled manufacturing jobs like those Zhang is sending to Africa are “being priced out of the Chinese market, which still pays wages far beneath even minimum wage jobs in the US,” said Christopher Balding, professor of economics at Peking University HSBC Business School.
The Trump campaign did not respond to questions from AFP, while Ivanka Trump’s company “declined” to comment.