Chinese automotive suppliers to set up in Detroit might seem a
provocative move, given the problems facing the region's home-grown

Yet that's exactly what a US trade delegation hopes to do and it has already had some success.

The delegation is from Wayne County, a region of the state of
Michigan that includes Detroit and a large chunk of the US car
industry. It has just come back from a two-week visit to China
encompassing four cities — Chongqing, Wuhan, Nanjing and Beijing –
that are strong in the production of automobiles and parts.

To attract FDI, Wayne County plans to open offices in three Chinese
cities including Chongqing, the new mega-city which is also the site of
Ford's first Chinese joint auto-making venture — more on Chongqing here.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, who led the delegation,
believes the time is ripe to attract Chinese FDI to his region. Because
of the growing trade and currency frictions between China and the US,
he argues that China is keen to invest abroad as a way to keep trade
relations sweet.

The initiative takes place against a bleak backdrop for the US
component suppliers. Since Since 1999, approximately 35 suppliers have
filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, hit by the combination of
declining orders, pricing pressures and higher raw material costs.

Detroit's struggling carmakers are pressing suppliers to relocate
manufacturing operations to China and other low-cost countries. Ford,
for example, expects to buy more than $2.6bn in components from China
this year, up 63% from about $1.6bn a year ago.

By encouraging Chinese suppliers to set up in Detroit's backyard,
Ficano hopes to reverse the tide — albeit slightly — and so lessen
the job losses created by this “hollowing out” of Detroit's traditional
supplier base.

Following a similar trip last year, China's third-largest maker of
molds, Tianjin Motor Dies, has now opened an office in Troy, Michigan
and another Chinese firm, Tempo Group, is to establish an automotive
R&D facility in Wayne Country with plans to hire up to 200 people.

More on the Wayne County website here.

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