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2011-04-23 10:20 来源:互联网
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  The recent National Peoples’ Congress in Beijing made it clear that price stability, rather than growth, had become the top priority in China.


  The consumer price index target was set at 4 per cent (a percentage point above last year’s missed 3 per cent target). So far this year, though, the government hasn’t been any more successful than in 2010. Food prices continue to rise (though at a slower pace after the Lunar New Year banquets came to an end in mid-February). Housing prices also are going up despite measures to curb the appreciation. And the prices of commodities that China imports such as oil and coal continue to climb, up 30 per cent in the past three months.


  The market frets about all this. It also frets about rising wage bills in China – wages were up in nominal terms 14 per cent on the year through September, according to HSBC.


  All across China’s coastal cities, plant operators complain about their rising labour costs. China Fishery, the world’s largest fish processing firm with 14 plants across China, is no exception. Recruiting and retaining workers have become much more challenging.

  在中国所有的沿海城市,工厂主们都在抱怨劳动力成本日益上升。全球最大的渔业公司、在中国各地拥有14家工厂的中渔集团(China Fishery)也不例外。招聘及留住工人的难度比以往大得多。

  “We understood that this would happen,” says its group managing director, Ng Joo Siang, speaking at his Hong Kong head office, where the corridors are lined with photographs and packages of fish products. “We just did not think it would happen so quickly. Today there is job opportunity everywhere. There is much less need for migration.”

  中渔集团执行董事黄裕翔(Ng Joo Siang)在其香港总部的办公室里表示:“我们知道会出现这种情况,只是没想到来得这么快。眼下到处都有工作机会,人们外出打工的必要性明显下降。”在中渔香港总部办公室的走廊两旁,摆放着海产品的图片和包装。

  In response, Mr Ng says he is retooling his factories and introducing more automation to make them less labour intensive. Other manufacturers and processors are moving inland. It is no coincidence that the government is tolerating higher wages on the coast at a time when it is practical to think of moving inland, thanks to vast improvements in infrastructure. Many factory owners would prefer to go to Shanxi or Sichuan than to Bangladesh and Vietnam, where often inputs have to be imported, the ports don’t work well and local customs officials may be corrupt.


  Despite all this, wage inflation is one source of inflation in China that is less worrisome. Indeed, it is arguably a good thing. That’s because wage growth is part of the rebalancing that both the Chinese government and the rest of the world is calling for. That rebalancing is taking place both within China and between China and the rest of the world.


  As wages rise in the biggest cities on the coast, companies are moving inland, bringing jobs and wealth with them, and reducing both internal income disparities and internal capital flight. Wage hikes mean domestic demand rather than exports will become increasingly the catalyst for growth. That is good for countries that make the stuff that Chinese consumers wish to buy.


  That in turn spells diminishing surpluses that have led to friction with trading partners led by the US. (By contrast, Japan remains hopelessly dependent on external demand for its economic growth. Even before the natural disaster, income growth in Japan has been flat to negative for years.)


  Just as there is good deflation and bad deflation, there can be good inflation and bad inflation. Importantly, wage growth still lags behind productivity growth which means that China will remain competitive and the profits of its enterprises will continue to climb.


  Moreover, inflation will do for China what exchange rate appreciation might have done if China had been more willing to tolerate a rise in the value of its currency. Already China is moving up the value added chain. China’s exports of lower value added products like toys and textiles seem to be gradually peaking, while its exports of machinery and high end equipment have been expanding, as JPMorgan’s China economist Grace Ng notes.

  此外,通胀将会给中国带来那种汇率升值可能产生的效果——如果中国更愿意容忍人民币升值的话。中国已经在向价值链的高端移动。正如摩根大通(JPMorgan)的中国经济学家吴向红(Grace Ng)指出的那样,中国出口的玩具和纺织品等低价值产品似乎逐渐达到峰值,而机械和高端设备的出口正不断扩大。

  It was only a few years ago that the Chinese government along with policymakers outside China worried about deflation. Indeed, terms of trade continue to favour commodity producers rather than manufacturers, in large part because of the prodigious output of manufactured goods from China. In Australia, for example, 1,000 tonnes of exported coal buys 170 imported flat screen televisions compared with just 30 of them five years ago, according to JPMorgan.


  Falling prices for manufactured goods though was a good thing for frantic consumers in the west, particularly in the US. Arguably, inflation in China will be worse news for the rest of the world than for China itself because the cost of imports from China will rise, importing inflation along with goods. China and other manufacturing economies in Asia have become important factors in global price setting, according to Ms Ng.


  Still, the world and China’s increasing population of ageing and retired workers must be grateful for improvements in the fortunes of China’s labour force. If China can’t get rich before it gets old, at least its people can.


我要纠错】 责任编辑:梓墨