Restructuring of Global Supply Chains in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the US-China Trade War
Over the past decades, the increasing dependence on Chinese manufacturing has led to convergence of global supply chains. The US-China trade war and the COVID-19 pandemic have raised questions as to whether the heavy reliance on China poses significant supply chain risks.
Strebel Pascal, 2020
Bachelor Thesis, Hochschule für Wirtschaft FHNW
Betreuende Dozierende: Yufan Jiang
Keywords: global supply chains, COVID-19, pandemic, trade war
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The US-China trade war started in mid-2018. As trade tensions between the US and China began to rise, imposed bilateral tariffs on Chinese goods forced affected companies to restructure supply chain operations. And, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused severe supply chain disruptions with rippling effects for the global economy, discussions in the press continued to question the heavy dependence on China. This thesis investigates whether the COVID-19 pandemic presents a tipping point concerning the restructuring of global supply chains from China to other countries.
The investigation of global supply chain structures is a complex undertaking, and access to quantitative data on a firm-level is very limited. Therefore, primary research consisted of a series of semi-structured expert interviews to gather qualitative data. An additional online survey was conducted to complement the results of the expert interviews. The emphasis was put on global restructuring processes in the Chinese market, taking into account the current impacts of the US-China trade war and the COVID-19 pandemic as well as market forces in the Chinese business environment.
Global supply chains are primarily shifting due to economic market forces. The Chinese business environment is progressively shifting from vertical specialization to horizontal specialization. However, rising wages and labor shortages in the Chinese market still started to push low-cost manufacturing to other countries, especially in the Southeast Asian area. The bilateral tariffs imposed due to the US-China trade war have led to trade shifts to third countries because of trade diversion effects. The outbreak of COVID-19 posed unprecedented risks for supply chains and made companies rethink their current structures. The dependence on the Chinese market has been identified as a significant risk. Nonetheless, the rise of the Chinese middle class and the increase in disposable income offer international companies enormous growth potential. Hence, companies are not becoming increasingly dependent from a supply-side perspective, but from a demand-side view. Coming out of the coronavirus crisis, the restructuring of global supply chains will depend on the economic recovery as well as the financial ability of companies to relocate supply chain operations.
Studiengang: Business Administration International Management (Bachelor)
Fachbereich der Arbeit: Logistik & Beschaffung