China’s CE-Makers & America’s Buyers: Is the Romance Over?

China’s CE-Makers & America’s Buyers: Is the Romance Over?


For two trade partners who’ve spent the last decade creating an unprecedented profit channel one manufacturing & distributing deal at a time, China’s electronics makers and U.S. buyers are moving into a new era of what seems to be mutual wariness. At the Hong Kong Spring Electronics Fair this week, trade council officials spoke of focusing their energies on “less mature” markets like South Africa or Brazil, eyeing America’s sub-prime crisis and possible recession. Meanwhile, the Americans on the fair showfloor expressed concerns with China’s rising labor costs, taxes, and the quality of merchandise that makes it into shipping containers.

“I’d say there is a lack of trust,” said Charles Kirmuss, a Colorado-based CTO who travelled to Hong Kong to source new search & rescue technology. “In the U.S., we assume the product example they show us will be the same quality as the final shipment, but sometimes, after you send the money over, you get back a box of rocks.”

Such sentiments are by no means strangulating the China-U.S. trade route. The Hong Kong Trade Council’s Raymond Yip said he “hoped for a soft landing” for the United States economy. “We saw no effects last Christmas. Knock on wood for next year,” he said. The Council reported that Hong Kong’s sales to the U.S. did drop 3 percent last year, but their exports still grew 11% world-wide, and they seemed proud of their ability to be a bit less dependent on one reigning superpower.

Joe Valencic, a California-based buyer who was shopping for underwater camera technologies, said Chinese inflation and American recession would hit home this year, but not necessarily hit hard. “I hear [Chinese] people on the floor saying, ‘We’re sorry the price is high.’ They’re apologizing because a product costs $35 instead of $28. But we’re still charging $500 in the U.S.! So I’d say it doesn’t matter yet.”

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