Part 2: Importing from China
Importing from China: Zhejiang Industrial Cities Part 2 - Suppliers in Ningbo
Welcome to the second of our 3 part series on Industrial cities in Zhejiang province, China. Hopefully we can offer you some insight into what the most established manufacturers in Ningbo are doing along with two smaller neighbouring cities, Cixi and Yuyao. If you missed Part 1 check it out.
Ningbo in brief...
Before we get down to the factory stuff, let's learn a little more about Ningbo. Ningbo is an industrial powerhouse on the east coast of Zhejiang province. It is widely known for it's extremely busy shipping port, which is the busiest in the world when looking at sheer tonnage of cargo. The network of canals and access to major Chinese waterways has built up Ningbo Zhoushan port over the last 1200 years! Unfortunately, with this economic progress, the sheer amounts of traffic in the seaways around the port has led to a lot of pollution. Hangzhou Bay Bridge has connected Ningbo to Jiaxing since 2008, and more importantly cut 50% off the travel time between Ningbo and China's financial center, Shanghai. The Bay Bridge is a staggering 36km stretch of highway over water and is worth a trip just to appreciate the engineering feat.
The famous Chinese game of Mahjong supposedly comes from Ningbo, and for anyone doing a day's sight-seeing, they could do worse than visit the Tianyi Pavillion, which is China's oldest library and contains historical exhibits on the game of Mahjong.
It's all about the Seafood…
If you visit Ningbo and have lunch, dinner, or even breakfast with your local contacts there, you can expect to eat seafood. Some weird and some wonderful - pack Imodium, it can be useful if you are not hardened to the delicacies. Delicacies include various turtle dishes, spicy crayfish, and indeed anything that carries a shell around. Embrace it.
Talking Business in Ningbo
It's a big city with a lot of developed areas and developing areas, but certainly a place with a thriving economy and strong GDP. Ningbo has attracted a lot of foreign investment over the last number of years, such as the wholly foreign owned Nordic Industrial park, which opened in 2002 and is home to around 40 companies from Norway, Sweden, Finland & Denmark. Forty seems to be the magic number, as 40 Fortune 500 companies have invested almost 12 Billion USD in Ningbo as of 2014. Giants like Volkswagen (Cars) and Akzonobel (Chemicals) are among some of the high profile companies there.
7 Massive Industries in Ningbo
1. Finished Garments
The numbers game in China is always interesting. Over 2,000 factories for finished garments, over 1.5 Billion pieces of clothes per year, and over 12% of China's garment production.
Ningbo has a very long history in textiles and produces yarn which has naturally helped in growing the amount of garment factories there now. The textile industry accounts for more than 10% of Ningbo's economy.
It is very common in China to give the name "Capital of" or "World of" when an industry is popular in a certain area. With 33% of China's stationary exports, naturally Ningbo is often referred to as the "Capital of Stationary in China". I have been lucky enough to do business with some good companies there and the scale is mind blowing. It should be noted that paper making is a dirty business, so check how waste water is treated in the production process of perspective suppliers.
4. Mould Making
If you are importing from China a foundry, die-cast, or metallurgy mould then with over 3000 factories Ningbo is where you need to go.
5. Home Appliances
Ningbo is not only home to China's most famous appliance brands, but it is considered in the Top 3 cities producing appliances in China. Over 12,000 factories are involved in the industry which encompasses parts manufacture and assembly. For mid-priced ranges with reliable quality, there are a lot of options in the area. Cixi and Yuyao are home to many of these suppliers.
The auto-parts game fits nicely around the mould making industry. China has a booming auto industry, yet there is pressure for part suppliers to be greener, more efficient, and also compete with undercutting supply from markets such as Vietnam and India. There are still enough suppliers in a good space to work with if you are importing from China.
7. Plastic Machines - "The World capital of Plastic Machines"
Yet another title bestowed on Ningbo, it is hard to keep up. Basically, they do some big stuff andplastic producing machines is no different with close to 50% of the world's requirement coming from this one area. Major German, Japanese & Korean manufacturers have set-up shop alongside the local brands.
Moving to Cixi & Yuyao
Both located to the North West of Ningbo, Cixi and Yuyao share many of the same industry types with their larger neighbour.
Cixi is the bigger of the two and is very involved in the appliance, mould, garment and auto part industries. It is very common to be in contact with a company referencing Ningbo in the name, but actually it may be based in Cixi or Yuayo. Worth checking if your schedule is tight! Cixi is another Chinese economic phenomenon and constantly features in Top 5 lists for economic investment and competitiveness. It's not like Paris for a trip, but is a fantastic place to do business.
Yuyao is the smaller cousin, but like Cixi has really benefited from its location between Ningbo and Shanghai. Yuyao shares many suppliers in the massive 7, but also is very famous and competent in the supply of LED Lighting, Toys, Plastic Moulds, Tapware and Baths. The brevity of my list doesn't explain well enough how much manufacturing is happening in cities, but I hope this gives you an understanding of the main categories.