“Made in China” once represented the lowest-cost manufacturing in the world. Not anymore. Labor costs have been steadily rising, environmental regulations are much stricter now, and, as of last year, Chinese products exported to the U.S. come with expensive tariffs.
In response, Chinese manufacturers have been moving their operations overseas, sparking an intense global competition among many of the world’s poorest countries to see who can attract that investment. Southeast Asia, at least so far, appears to be the big winner. But other regions, including Africa, aren’t giving up — countries such Ethiopia are aggressively positioning themselves as an ideal gateway for Chinese producers to access the European, U.S., and even the Chinese market itself.
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