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Stamford, Conn., June 24, 2020

Gartner Survey Reveals 33% of Supply Chain Leaders Moved Business Out of China or Plan to by 2023

Tariff Costs and Resilience Concerns are Primary Reasons to Look for Alternative Locations

A Gartner, Inc. survey of 260 global supply chain leaders in February and March 2020 found that 33% had moved sourcing and manufacturing activities out of China or plan to do so in the next two to three years. Survey results show that the COVID-19 pandemic is only one of several disruptions that have put global supply chains under pressure.

“Global supply chains were being disrupted long before COVID-19 emerged,” said Kamala Raman, senior director analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice. “Already in 2018 and 2019, the U.S.-China trade war made supply chain leaders aware of the weaknesses of their globalized supply chains and question the logic of heavily outsourced, concentrated and interdependent networks. As a result, a new focus on network resilience and the idea of more regional manufacturing emerged. But this kind of change comes with a price tag.”

Tariff Costs are the Primary Reason to Move Supply Chains

For decades, China has been the go-to destination for high-quality, low-cost manufacturing, and it has established itself as a key source of supply for almost all major industries including retail and pharmaceutical. However, Gartner research showed that the margin between those companies planning to add jobs in China versus taking them away narrowed sharply in 2019. The primary reason is the increase in tariff costs.

“We have found that tariffs imposed by the U.S. and Chinese governments during the past years have increased supply chain costs by up to 10% for more than 40% of organizations. For just over one-quarter of respondents, the impact has been even higher,” Ms. Raman said. “Popular alternative locations are Vietnam, India, and Mexico. The second main reason for moving business out of China is that supply chain leaders want to make their networks more resilient.”

Balancing Efficiency and Resilience

Only 21% of survey respondents believe that they have a highly resilient network today – meaning that they have good visibility and the agility to shift sourcing, manufacturing and distribution activities around quickly. However, 55% expect to have a highly resilient network in the next two to three years – a reaction to disruptions such as Brexit, the trade war and COVID-19.

However, resilience has a price. Fifty-eight percent of respondents agree that more resilience also results in additional structural costs to the network.

“We are at a crossroads in the evaluation of global supply chains that pits just-in-time systems designed to improve operational efficiency against just-in-case plans that emphasize planning and preparing for a range of plausible scenarios,” Ms. Raman added. “To find balance, supply chain leaders must engage in risk management to assess their organization’s willingness to take risk onboard and decide how to quantify that risk against other network objectives such as cost effectiveness.”

Moving Closer to the Customer

One-quarter of survey respondents stated that they have already regionalized or localized manufacturing to be closer to demand. Despite the cost of adding more players to the ecosystem and increasing the overall network complexity, regional supply chains can ease delays and shortages in times of disruption – if the model is economically viable.

“Many Western organizations will have to explore new forms of automation on the factory floor to decrease the costs of near- or onshore production. Some also favor a partial option, such as manufacturing in Asia and moving only the final assembly closer to the customer,” Ms. Raman concluded.

Methodology

Between February and March 2020, Gartner’s Weathering the Supply Chain Storm Survey gathered data from 260 respondents, responsible for supply chain and related functions across a broad range of industries, including high-tech, industrial and food & beverage. Respondents were located in North & South America and the EMEA and APAC regions.

Gartner clients can learn more in the report “Weathering the Storm: Supply Chain Resilience in an Age of Disruption.”

About the Gartner Supply Chain Practice

The Gartner Supply Chain Practice brings together the most relevant analysis, peer-based best practices, metrics and data across Gartner and offers supply chain leaders a platform to make the choices that will drive their business forward. Additional information is available at https://www.gartner.com/en/supply-chain. Follow news and update from the Gartner Supply Chain Practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerSC.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities today and build the successful organizations of tomorrow.

Our unmatched combination of expert-led, practitioner-sourced and data-driven research steers clients toward the right decisions on the issues that matter most. We are a trusted advisor and an objective resource for more than 15,000 enterprises in more than 100 countries — across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size.

To learn more about how we help decision makers fuel the future of business, visit gartner.com.

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