Labour-intensive and low-margin goods must be made elsewhere as China moves up the economic value chain. In theory, any country with a lower GDP per capita than China could step into its shoes. In practice, however, few seem ready to do so.
Shaun Rein, managing director of market research firm CMR China, said his corporate clients planning to move operations abroad are most interested in Indonesia. The country has a relatively stable government, with a sizeable population (at around 240 million, by far the largest in Southeast Asia) and a booming middle class. However, others say Indonesia’s onerous labour regulations, weak infrastructure and lack of clear ownership laws make it as likely to become the next Philippines as the next China.
Instead of having one go-to workshop of the world, the country of choice now usually varies by industry. Bangladesh and Cambodia, for example, are carving out…
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