U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness Rising, Says Deloitte Study

The rankings also reveal a shift among the world’s traditional manufacturing powerhouses due to the Asia Pacific region’s rising influence and declining strength in European and BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

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The United States is expected to be the most competitive manufacturing nation, moving China into the number two position by 2020, according to the 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index report from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Deloitte Global) and the Council on Competitiveness (Council). The rankings also reveal a shift among the world’s traditional manufacturing powerhouses due to the Asia Pacific region’s rising influence and declining strength in European and BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

The prediction is based on an in-depth analysis of survey responses from more than 500 chief executive officers and senior leaders at manufacturing companies around the world. Major highlights of the 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index (GMCI) include:

U.S. projected to take number one spot by end of decade

•      The U.S. improved its ranking from 4th in 2010 to 2nd in this year’s study, and is expected to reach No.1 by 2020.
•      As the U.S. invests heavily in talent and technology, the nation ranks highest as an advanced manufacturing economy. The country is highly competitive in terms of the share of high skill and technology contribution to exports and labor productivity as measured to gross domestic product (GDP).
•      The U.S. continues to position itself among the global leaders in research and development (R&D) activities by investing in top universities, R&D talent and venture capital.

Mighty Five (MITI-V) start to show face as manufacturing power group
•      Made up of the five-Asia Pacific nations of Malaysia, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, the MITI-V or “Mighty Five” could represent a “New China” and enter the top 15 rankings of global manufacturing competitiveness over the next five years.
•      Low cost labor, agile manufacturing capabilities, favorable demographic profiles, and market and economic growth are leading factors likely to position these countries to rise in rankings by 2020.

BRIC crumbles as member nations’ individual ratings shuffle

•      Among the BRIC countries, only China is viewed as a top manufacturing nation in 2016. The other three – Brazil, Russia and India – have seen continuous declines in the study’s rankings over the past six years, despite aspirations that they may emerge as manufacturing goliaths.
•      Brazil’s political uncertainty, Russia’s geopolitical activities and impact from the slide in global crude oil prices, matched with India’s challenged economic and policy actions around infrastructure and investments, have likely triggered the decline from the BRIC’s manufacturing competitiveness peak.
•      Among the BRIC nations, manufacturing executives expressed optimism for only China and India by 2020, with expectations that India will regain some of its ranking position lost over the past several years.

North America and Asia Pacific become regional clusters of strength

•      The two regions are expected to dominate the competitive landscape in the next four years: All three North American countries (U.S, Canada and Mexico) in today’s top 10 remain there in the 2020 outlook; five Asia Pacific nations (China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and India) factor into the study’s top 10 in 2020.
•      The U.S. stands out as the anchor for the North American region with the highest level of manufacturing investments, a strong energy profile, and high-quality talent, infrastructure and innovation. Canada’s low trade barriers, tariff-free zone and investments in sectors key to its growing high-tech manufacturing future, along with Mexico’s 40 free trade agreements, low labor costs and close proximity to the U.S. round out the region.
•      The dominant Asia Pacific countries of China, Japan and South Korea are driven by talent and innovation and along with emerging newer powerhouses, such as Singapore and Taiwan, strengthen the region with a focus on high-tech exports. This region also houses the “Mighty Five” and five of the top 10 countries in current or future GMCI rankings.

European countries feel pressured to remain competitive on global scale

•      European nations are lagging behind as they work through sluggish economic recovery efforts and look to their anchors, Germany and the United Kingdom, to pull them ahead.
•      Most European nations, aside from the two anchors, are expected to slip in overall global manufacturing competitiveness rankings in next five years.

“Made in the USA is making a big comeback,” says Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness.  “Contrary to the view that manufacturing is dirty, dumb, dangerous and disappearing, our study points to a manufacturing future characterized by innovation-driven growth. Manufacturing is sustainable, smart, safe and surging – and America will lead the world in this transformation.”

“The U.S. is currently among the top nations unlocking advanced manufacturing technologies including smart, connected products and factories, predictive analytics and advanced materials that are core to future competitiveness,” says Craig Giffi, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and Deloitte U.S. Automotive Sector leader. “The U.S. excels at creating connections and synergy between people, technology, capital and organizations to form a cohesive ecosystem of innovation, generating tremendous value from investments in research and development.”

While the U.S. lead is a positive signal, the existing engineering and manufacturing workforce that pushed the country forward is beginning to get older, observed analysts.

“Therefore, it is important that public and private sectors collaborate on the nation’s educational and technological future to remain a top manufacturing competitor.”says Michelle Drew Rodriguez, manufacturing leader for Deloitte U.S.’s Center for Industry Insights,

According to Rosemary Coates, President of Blue Silk Consulting and Executive Director of the Reshoring Institute, the US must not become complacent regarding the competition from China.  She notes that Xi Jinping’s “Made in China 2025” initiative is laser focused on competitive advanced manufacturing and it will be a challenge for America to keep up. 

“With 80% of China’s economy dependent on manufacturing, the Chinese government is much more attuned to supporting its industrial development than are the US President and US Congress,” Coates says.

She adds that in reshoring manufacturing to the US, they are developing new technologies and innovative automation. 

“The manufacturing rebound in America is all about advanced manufacturing, not bringing low-wage, low-level manufacturing back.  That will make us competitive at the high-end of advanced manufacturing where jobs are fewer and require a high level of skills.  This is an evolution, not a r


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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