Wal-Mart announcement aids symposium


Raymond Cheng

Raymond Cheng

It is unclear if Wal-Mart’s recent commitment to buy an additional $50 billion in Made In America goods over the next decade will spark a manufacturing revival in the United States.

What is clear is that the timing of the Wal-Mart push could not have been better for the upcoming U.S.-China Manufacturing Symposium set for November in Dothan.

While Wal-Mart officials actually announced the initiative in January, it received widespread publicity during a U.S. manufacturing summit in Orlando in August. Executives with the Arkansas-based company say that a focus to increase the purchase of American-made goods could not only drive the creation of more manufacturing jobs, but also add jobs in other sectors including transportation, accounting and industrial engineering as well.

Raymond Cheng, founder and CEO of the SoZo Group – the organizer of the upcoming U.S.-China Manufacturing Symposium in Dothan – said the Wal-Mart announcement is beginning to have an impact in China.

“The Chinese manufacturers are starting to hear about Wal-Mart’s decision. This subject of Made in USA was brought up by top Chinese trade and manufacturing practitioners during the meetings that we hosted in Beijing with U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez (Monday),” Cheng said. “I expect Wal-Mart’s decision will alert some of the Chinese manufacturers, and prompt more Chinese manufacturers to rethink manufacturing and look for a new place to be, especially as we are entering a new era of manufacturing.”

U.S.-based manufacturing is becoming more attractive to companies that have been opening manufacturing facilities in other countries, and to companies in other countries that never considered opening manufacturing facilities in the United States. Several factors are leading to the increased interest:

» Lower U.S. energy costs. A recent Dallas Morning News story cited the “shale boom” as a factor in the location of three international steel manufacturing plants in Texas. The story stated Texas industrial natural gas costs are 25 percent lower than costs paid by Asian manufacturers.

» Increased wages in China.

» Stiff anti-dumping tariffs for certain foreign products.

The China-based Golden Dragon Copper Tubing recently began construction on a $100 million manufacturing facility in Alabama’s Wilcox County. When complete, the plant is expected to employ 300. Locating in the United States will allow Golden Dragon to avoid the tariff and save a bundle on transportation costs.

“As manufacturing in the U.S. is becoming more affordable — plus the attraction to the “Made in USA” stamp — we are seeing more and more Chinese manufacturers becoming interested to invest in America and manufacture here,” Cheng said. “That’s why when we announced the symposium in June, we decided to use this symposium to bridge the United States and Chinese manufactures. We believe that the symposium and its precursor events such as the SoZo 3D Technology Tour (kicked off last week in Dothan) can bring U.S. and Chinese manufacturers together and help to create jobs in communities like Dothan.”

Dothan will host as many as 400 Chinese business executives interested in United States expansion during the three-day symposium Nov. 10-12. Dothan, as well as several other cities and counties, are expected to aggressively pursue companies in order to find jobs.

Posted on September 10, 2013 on http://www.dothaneagle.com/news/article_5a9adc66-1a55-11e3-8798-0019bb30f31a.html

Follow Lance Griffin on Twitter @EagleLance

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