China’s Competitive Performance: A Threat To East Asian Manufactured Exports?
There is growing concern in Southeast and East Asia about the competitive threat posed by China’s burgeoning exports, exacerbated by its accession to the WTO. The threat is not confined to labour-intensive products but spans the whole technological and skill range. At the same time, China is rapidly raising its imports from the region, and it is not clear whether its burgeoning exports will damage its neighbours. We examine the dimensions of China’s competitive threat in the 1990s, benchmarking competitive performance by technology and market, and finds that market share losses are so far mainly in low technology products, with Japan being the most vulnerable market. We analyse market share changes and highlight product groups that are directly or indirectly exposed to a competitive threat. We examine intra-regional trade and find that China and its neighbours are raising high technology exports in tandem: the nature of the international production systems involved lead to complementarity rather than confrontation. China is thus acting as an engine of export growth for its neighbours in terms of direct trade. However, this will change as China moves up the value chain and takes on the activities that have driven East Asian export growth
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