China Trade Woes: Orders Down 40%, Apple Is Out

China Trade Woes: Orders Down 40%, Apple Is Out

In an earlier newsletter, FreightCaviar wrote about a WSJ report on the unraveling of the US and China trade relationship. Now, US manufacturing orders from China are down 40%, according to the latest data from CNBC. Most production will shut down for seven days starting on January 21 for the Chinese New Year holiday, two weeks earlier than in previous years. 

Some numbers from project44: 

  • 2,475,792 vessel TEU volume from China to the US in July 2022
  • 1,961,121 TEUs in November 2022, a 21% decline. 

What Caused ORder Dropoff in China? 

Recent China trade issues stem from strict Covid-19 lockdowns that its citizens angrily spoke out against in protests across the country. We can’t forget the general drop in global demand and overcapacity issues. So it’s easy to see why the disruption and slowdown have some brands looking elsewhere.

Apple plans to move production out of China.

The company wants to diversify its supply chain because of recent issues in China. The Wall Street Journal reports that “iPhone City” in Zhengzhou, China dealt with violent protests over Covid restrictions at its Foxconn-run factory. This one factory employed around 300,000 workers and, at one point, made 85% of Pro version iPhones, according to Counterpoint Research.

During lockdowns, workers at the factory lived on-site and limited their interaction with others. The first to grow restless were young people who climbed fences, left the factory, and began speaking out on social media against low wages and harsh restrictions, WSJ reports. 

The disruptions became apparent at the end of the line: US wait times for iPhones have increased since 2020, with customers waiting 37 days, even 10 weeks after launch day in 2022.

  • There was a 25-day wait time for the iPhone 12 Pro Max in 2020 at launch.
  • In 2022, wait times increased to 39 days for the iPhone 14 Pro Max at launch. 

Apple is now looking to India and Vietnam as new hubs of production. But they won’t be completely cutting off ties with China just yet. The country still has the workforce and consistent regulation. However, in the long term, Apple wants to ship 40% to 45% of iPhones from India. 

Supply chain lines are being reworked…

…because of a series of global events that have lasting consequences. Brexit, the US – China trade war, a worldwide pandemic, and Russia’s war in Ukraine have some fearing the end of globalization. But China still plays an essential role in the supply chain for many countries. Given the current economic climate across Europe, the EU plans to ramp up ties with China despite US desires.

So no, lines with China won’t be erased any time soon. They may be redrawn or made less bold as countries reevaluate the role that the “manufacturing hub of the world” plays in their economies. 

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