The BCG Global Manufacturing Cost-Competitiveness Index

August 19, 2014
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    In This Interactive
    • This interactive depicts changes in the costs of productivity-adjusted labor, natural gas, and electricity from 2004 to 2014 for manufacturers in 25 economies. All costs are relative to those of the U.S.


    • Old perceptions of high-cost and low-cost economies no longer hold. Mexico now is a cheaper place to manufacture than China is, for example, and Brazil ranks among the most expensive. Russia and Eastern European nations are nearly at parity with the U.S.


    • The UK is a rising star in Europe; countries such as France, Australia, and Belgium have lost considerable ground.


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    The BCG Global Manufacturing Cost-Competitiveness Index measures changes in direct manufacturing costs from 2004 to 2014 among the world’s top 25 exporting economies. The index develops competitiveness scores based on manufacturing wages, productivity, energy costs, and currency exchange rates compared with the U.S. dollar.

    The U.S. serves as the benchmark for both 2004 and 2014, with a score of 100. If a country has a score of 110, for example, that means its direct manufacturing costs are 10 percent higher than those of the U.S. This interactive allows you to see how the manufacturing cost structure of each economy in the index has changed relative to those of the other 24 over the last ten years.

    Begin by clicking the tab for either 2004 or 2014. Then select the economy you wish to study on the drop-down list. If you select Germany 2004, for example, you will see Germany’s costs compared with the others in the index that year. You will also see some of the main components of those costs—wages adjusted for productivity, natural gas, and electricity. Switch to 2014, and you will see how Germany’s cost position has changed.

    As you examine the ten-year changes, several distinct patterns emerge:

    • Some economies long considered low cost—including Brazil, China, Poland, and Russia—have seen their competitiveness erode significantly over the past decade.
    • Some countries that already had high costs, such as Australia, Belgium, and France, have seen costs rise even more.
    • India, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and the UK have held their cost competitiveness relatively steady since 2004 compared with the U.S. and have emerged as low-cost manufacturing economies in their regions.
    • Mexico and the U.S. have improved their competitiveness against all other economies in the index. We call these two nations the “rising global stars” of manufacturing.
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