China remains one of the top trade partners with the United States. U.S. goods and services trade with China totaled an estimated $660 billion in 2015. Exports were over $160 billion and imports exceeded $490 billion. With such strong trade relations, China will remain a key partner despite the increased protectionist policies indicated by the Trump administration. China will be positioning itself for a greater leadership role such as in the 16 nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), accounting for almost 30% of global GDP.
OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND BUT THE PLAYBOOK IS CHANGING
- The UBS banking group reports that retail sales of consumer goods is still growing at about 10 percent per year. And the Boston Consulting Group estimates that the consumer economy would expand by nearly half – to about $6.5 trillion in total – by 2020 even assuming that China’s overall economic growth rate cools down significantly. Just the incremental consumption growth of $2.3 trillion BCG projects over the next five years is much larger than the current size of the consumer marketplace in Germany or the United Kingdom.
- Two basic factors are driving this consumer-spending trajectory. The first is a new generation of freer-spending, sophisticated customers. The Demand Institute, for example, estimates that this generation will swell in numbers from 370 million in 2014 to 590 million in 2025. It also reckons that this group will account for 60 percent of total consumption by then and will spend some $25 trillion over the next decade.
- Yet even as the consumer marketplace expands in size, it is also evolving qualitatively as customers become savvier and increasingly demand more premium products. Proctor & Gamble’s CEO recently summed up his company’s stumbles in China this way: “We looked at China too much like a developing market as opposed to the most discerning market in the world.”
- The second factor is the increasingly powerful role of e-commerce. China surpassed the US as the world’s largest e-commerce market in 2013, a development fueled in turn by the phenomenal speed of smartphone penetration in the country. UBS reports that online retail sales grew 33 percent in 2015, accounting for more than a tenth of total retail sales. Retail spending on mobile devices also increased by over 100 percent last year, continuing a trend seen since late 2013.
- BCG expects that e-commerce – and especially mobile commerce – will drive over 40 percent of total consumption growth through 2020. In fact, more than 460 million Chinese consumers are now shopping online – a ten-fold increase from just eight years ago. A recent survey, for instance, found that nearly half of Chinese shoppers are already buying groceries online, twice the level of global consumers as a whole.…Interesting fact for the renewable sector: China plans to add 1,000 gigawatts of green energy capacity by 2030, a figure equal to 90 percent of the current size of the entire US power grid.
Vietnam has a rapidly growing economy, driven by a young, energetic and educated population. The U.S. is Vietnam’s second largest trading partner and there are many shared interests between the two countries including increased awareness of global warming and its impacts. Vietnam is one of the nations most vulnerable to rising sea levels and other environmental changes which positions them to become a strong voice for advocacy and innovation in this regard.
THE NEXT FRONTIER FOR U.S. BUSINESS IN ASIA
- Vietnam is playing an important role in Asia’s shifting manufacturing landscape as itincreasingly takes over the production of textiles and electronics from China.
- In a new survey of U.S. companies operating in Southeast Asia, many cited Vietnam as apriority market for future business expansion.
- Vietnam has the highest internet penetration rate in Southeast Asia, which is driving a boom in e-commerce. According to the Nielsen media research company, Vietnamese are among the world’s most voracious consumers of video on their smartphones.
- Vietnam’s tech startup scene, epitomized by the “Flappy Bird” smartphone app that became a recent global sensation, is attracting increasing attention. The Gartner market research firm ranks the country as among the top five providers of IT outsourcing services in Asia – up from 30 th place in 2010. Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups recently launched a new fund to channel investment to the country’s tech entrepreneurs.
- According to a new World Bank study, no country will benefit more than Vietnam from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.
- The country offers significant business opportunities for agricultural products, power generation machinery, telecommunications, health care, pharmaceutical products and e- commerce.
Japan and the U.S. have long retained strong trade relations. Total two-way trade is over $280 billion with $115 billion in goods and services exported to Japan. Japan ranks 2nd in Internet use worldwide, providing incredible opportunities for global companies to reach this online market. Combined with being the fourth largest buyer of California produced goods and services, including aerospace and technology, Japan remains a strong U.S. trade partner.
ANCIENT MEETS MODERN WITH A YEN FOR GROWTH
- Japan is at the forefront of the significant demographic developments facing a number of the world’s most advanced economies, offering a valuable consumer proving ground for countries with populations that are shrinking and growing older.
- With a quickly-aging population, Japan leads the world in health spending per capita and is spawning new business opportunities for companies in the health care, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical devices & equipment, elder-care and elder-tech fields. An important “silver market” has developed for companies focused on products and services geared toward retirement-age customers.
- As the labor market tightens, new opportunities are developing for companies in the robotics and automation sectors.
- With a scarce natural resources base of its own, Japan is increasingly open to agricultural and food imports.
- Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it has launched a major focus on developing renewable power generation and energy-harvesting technology. As part of this program, the retail electricity market is being deregulated and local economies are being revitalized through the expansion of renewable energy projects.
In terms of population size, Korea (with 50 million people) is the 28th-largest country in the world. But viewed according to the overall size of its economy, it is the world’s 14th-largest country and the fourth largest in Asia. In short, Korea punches well above its weight in the global economy, a high-income country with a GDP-per-capita level three times that of China and almost equal to Japan’s.
EXPLORE SOUTH KOREA
SMALL COUNTRY, BIG OPPORTUNITIES
From consumer electronics to autos, it is home to some of the most competitive and famous companies in the world. A shaper of global pop culture, it is also heavily engaged in the international trade system. Korea, for example, is the fifth-largest U.S. trade partner and the third-largest partner for the Los Angeles area.
- The L.A. area by itself accounts for a fifth of total U.S.-Korea trade activity – the highest level of any U.S. region. Exports of food products and aircraft engines and parts lead the way, along with motor vehicle parts.
- The U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, which went into effect in March 2012, has markedly increased U.S.-Korea trade levels.
- The Korean economy is moving toward more technology and capital-intensive industries, creating opportunities for U.S. companies in the fields of life sciences (medical instruments, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology), aerospace and defense, environmental technology and nanotechnology.
The economic relationship between the United States and the European Union is easily the largest and most complex in the world, generating goods and services trade flows of about $2.7 billion a day. In all, the relationship accounts for nearly half of all global economic output and a third of total goods and services trade. Taken together, the EU’s 28 countries would rank as the second-largest market for U.S. exporters and the fifth-largest market for agricultural exports. Of these, the top three largest country export markets are Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
- Germany is the Los Angeles area’s sixth-largest trade partner and the largest non-Asian one. Total trade between Los Angeles and Germany was $11.68 billion in 2015. Leading exports in 2015 included civilian aircraft, engines and parts; motor vehicles; and medical instruments.
- Germany is the world’s fifth-largest economy and accounts for more than a fifth of the EU’s overall GDP. It also features the largest consumer market in Europe, and its location in the center of the continent makes it a cornerstone around which many U.S. companies build their European expansion strategies.
- Germany is the largest U.S. trade partner in Europe and the sixth-largest market overall for U.S. exports.