I noted back in February that China is no longer exporting price deflation, and is instead causing global prices for commodities and manufactured goods to rise. A reader has now kindly sent me an interesting report from Credit Suisse, commenting on the potential inflationary impact of new labour laws in China. This is particularly important for the chemical industry, given the volume of foreign investment that has taken place in China.
It features the above chart, showing how wages have increased by 70% since 2004. And its analysis claims that the new Labour Contract Law, in operation since January, will increase manufacturing costs by a further 15%-20%. CS argue that this under-reported measure raises China’s labour rights to international standards, requiring extra pay for overtime, employer contributions to social and pension funds, and severance pay.
CS note that the new law is part of a package of measures aimed at stimulating domestic demand and reducing export-dependency. VAT export rebates were lowered three times in 2007, whilst corporate tax rates for Foreign Direct Investors are being raised from 15% to 25%. They argue that as well as increasing global inflation, the new measures ‘will also affect margins of many listed foreign companies using China as a production base’.
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