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Chinese Printing Industry: Primed to Be Largest Market

March 2013 By Regis Delmontagne

Having returned recently from Beijing where I attended the International Media Week, patterned after the drupa format, I can tell you that the Chinese are no longer the student and could be considered the teacher.

More than 200 individuals from Europe, the United States and Asia attended the kick-off program to inform the printing and packaging world about the upcoming China Print 2013. Held in Beijing from May 14-18, the exhibition can now be considered one of the world's most important showcases of technology, blending the traditional printing methods alongside the digital offerings.

The program began on Jan. 8, which, according to the Chinese Lunar calendar, is the coldest day of the year—and it actually was the coldest day of the Beijing winter up to that point. But the cold weather could not distract the attendees from learning about how "hot" the Chinese printing industry really is!

The statistics are overwhelming: In 1978, the Chinese printing industry output value was only 4.8 billion RMB (6 RMB equals U.S. $1). By the end of 2011 that number had reached 868 billion RMB which, by the way, makes China the second largest printing market in the world, after the United States.

More startling data: There are more than 102,000 printing enterprises with over 3.5 million employees. Of these enterprises, 47,000 focus on packaging, with an output value of 632 billion RMB (20.5 percent annual growth rate); 6,800 focus on publication printing, with an output value of 131.3 billion RMB; and 48,000 serve other markets, with an output value of 106.4 billion RMB.

Contrary to what many people may believe, not everything we see printed comes from China. For example, in 2011, the output value of exported printing products was 68 billion RMB, comprising less than 8 percent of the industry's total output. The annual growth rate for this portion of the market is 2.8 percent.

A few dark clouds appear on the horizon, as well. With rising labor and transportation costs, coupled with much lower labor costs in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, Chinese printers are faced with increased competition for printing jobs that had almost automatically flowed their way. Competition, or what you may call exceptionally competitive pricing, means the Chinese industry can no longer look to a Western market to increase their bottom lines. The domestic market is where they must compete.

 

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