With China's rising labor costs, its position of the world's workshop is in danger of being usurped by neighboring countries, such as Cambodia and Bangladesh.
In a recent report from Bike Europe, the Philippines is well positioned to become a hub for regional bicycle production for European bound bicycles.
According to the article:
New production base: PhilippinesThis could be a golden opportunity for Taiwanese owned bicycle manufacturers, but for only one hitch.
As of January 1, 2014 a new GSP will come into force. In the new system GSP+ is continued (granting the duty-free status for export to Europe currently enjoyed by Cambodia and Bangladesh). One of the new countries eligible for GSP+ and relevant to the bike business is the Philippines; currently holding a number 5 position in the Top Ten EU Bike Suppliers. Export is likely to grow from this country as well as from Bangladesh, where Firefox from Sri Lanka is said to be opening a factory; the country's second, adding to the one operated by Meghna Group.
Taiwan is currently in the middle of a diplomatic spat with the Philippines over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman who was suspected of poaching in Philippine waters. The reaction from Taipei was swift and firm. Filipino labor permits were suspended and Taiwan pulled the plug on hundreds of tourist junkets.
The effects of the Taiwan government's actions against the Philippines may have far greater implications beyond a few layoffs and a temporary hiccup.
As far as cycling is concerned, it is an unfortunate roadblock to helping Taiwanese companies find an exit strategy from China, which is proving to be less advantageous that originally believed. The move also foreshadows Taiwan's possible fate as the nation rapidly expands its tourism infrastructure to cater the perceived boon from Chinese tourism where the bicycle plays a prominent role in attracting tourists. In the old days the environment was sacrificed for polluting factories and rapidly conceived industrial zones. Now, the environment is being sacrificed for short sighted and rapidly conceived tourism zones.
Under the leadership of President Ma Ying-jiu, Taiwan has embarked on a path that seeks to replace jobs in manufacturing and technology-- Taiwan's former mainstays-- with service jobs in a broadening tourism economy.
One can't help but wonder what China's first response may be when Taiwan does something its massive and militarized neighbor might disagree with.
In other news:
- Melissa Holmes, a tattoo artist who launched her project to do a round-the-world tattooing project from Taiching, and even inked a few of my own friends along the way, has had her Surly Long Haul Trucker stolen in Greece. Luckily she has found a sponsor to help get her on a new bike and back underway. Melissa contacted me about a year ago as she was just gearing up for her adventure. I am glad to see her plan unfold, though I am sad to see she lost the bike.
- The You Bike program finally takes off. I have seen it with my own eyes.