A new survey by Deloitte says that North America is the most desirable region for expansion” over the next three years. The survey targeted top-tier executives of manufacturing companies with North American operations.
Deloitte, Deloitte Canada and Deloitte Mexico, with the cooperation of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), The Manufacturing Institute and Canadian Manufacturers &Exporters (CME), surveyed 321 executives of North American manufacturers across product sectors. The majority of companies represented in the survey (45%) are based in the U.S.
In terms of plans for expansion, the survey found that sales and services topped the list with 76% planning to expand sales in the U.S., 58% in Canada and 67% in Mexico. Sourcing of raw materials and parts (50% in China, 49% in the U.S. and 43% in Mexico) and production (44% in the U.S., 37% in Mexico and 37% in China) rounded out the top three priorities.
Overall, the majority of respondents said North America will not lose competitive ground in those areas over the next five years. And a significant number said they believe North America will become even more competitive by 2012 in sales and marketing (45%), information technology (41%), customer service (37%), R&D/engineering (36%) and finance/accounting (34%). A small percentage predicted that North America will be less competitive globally in these areas by 2012, with the balance being neutral.
Still, more than half of survey respondents (61%) said they expect North America to become even less competitive globally as a site for production by 2012. The key barriers to making production competitive globally were seen as labor cost (cited by 71%), tax policy (66%), work rules (66%), lack of available skilled labor (51%) and costs of raw materials and energy (56%).
By contrast, China and India were seen by executives as increasingly competitive as locations for production facilities. For example, 37% of respondents said they plan to expand in China in the next three years, and 24% in India.
As production shifts, manufacturers indicated they will move other operations as well. For example, more than 48% of respondents said they plan to expand sales operations in China over the next three years, and 34% said they plan to do the same in India. Additionally, 27% plan service operations expansion in China and 23% plan to do so in India.