The APEX EXPO event in San Diego was a great success.
There were numerable major announcements and product introductions.
To me, of greatest significance was not just the announcement of CFX but the actuaL demonstration of its magic on the show floor as well as the growing support it was gaining in our industry.
Below is a link to my interview on the Executive Forum on Advancing Automotive Electronics.
The rapidly changing scene in China's PCB fabrication industry initiated by the government will rock the "home" industry and create new opportunities elsewhere. Many of the "smaller" participants will vanish.
Progress is reported in the China-U.S. trade negotiations as manufacturing continue to slow and the government takes counter mesdures. China seems to be counting on promises of big purchases of semiconductors and other U.S. goods to ease trade tensions and persuade President Trump to extend the tariff truce and later resolve the market-rattling dispute directly with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. source: Digitimes
The PRC is still predicting 6+ percent growth in 2019.
In Taiwan Chunghwa Precision Test Tech (CHPT) will kick off production in small volume for satellite communication PCBs at the end of 2019. Specializing in high-end IC testing solutions such as probe cards for wafer probing and load boards for final testing, CHPT has expanded its offerings to include high-frequency and high-speed PCBs for niche-market applications.
CHPT is already a major probe card supplier for smartphone application processors, with TSMC and Samsung being among its main clients.
Visitors to and exhibitors of the world's largest PCB & Electronic Assembly Show, will note a major change in the event's producers. The International Electronics Circuit Exhibition held in Shenzhen, China, previously produced jointly by the Hong Kong Printed Circuit Association (HKPCA) and the IPC will Instead find that the HKPCA is now partnering with its former rival the China Printed Circuit Association (CPCA) at the December 4-6, 2019 event as well as with the latter's annual Springtime event in Shanghai.
This raises several questions. What caused the divide between the IPC and the HKPCA? How did the HKPCA resolve its differences with the CPCA? How much government influence was exerted to bring about this partnership? What will the IPC's course in China be in the near term as well as the long term? Is the current link with productronica temporary or just one of several planned future exhibits in China? What effect will this have, if any, on the future of CTEX, the East China PCB/SMT Exhibition held in Suzhou co-organized by the Taiwan Printed Circuit Association (TPCA) held every May in Suzhou?
Yet, it gets even more complicated
Meanwhile, the IPC has joined the European Alliance for Apprenticeships!
Trade war fallout
A new survey of 600 multinational companies around Asia-Pacific, including 150 companies in China conducted by the law firm Baker McKenzie found that the U.S. China trade war forcing 93% of Chinese companies to transform their supply chains
to mitigate the effects of trade tariffs. Of these, 18% were considering a complete supply chain and production transformation, with 58% making major changes.
In some cases, this might mean the closure of a factory in China, with production transplanted to another country, often in Southeast Asia, with Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam proving popular destinations for new production facilities. In other cases, it can involve a reallocation of production, where the manufacture of goods bound for the U.S. moves to a country not affected by tariffs. The Chinese plant can then be redesignated to produce goods bound for countries that do not place tariffs on Chinese-made goods.
With the trade war now in its 11th month, experts say that many companies have gone beyond the point of considering whether to shift production, and are now in the process of executing their plans.
Of the 600 multinational companies polled in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore, 150 of the firms were based in China. Region-wide, 82% of respondents are changing their supply chains to counter the trade war. The biggest portion of respondents making changes, by nationality, were Japanese, with 94% making changes to their operations.
Some analysts warn that while companies are certainly keen to avoid the impact of the U.S.-China trade, their expectations should be managed as there is no country that can compete with China on manufacturing, when cost, infrastructure, quality and service are all considered.
The South China Post stated that President Xi will likely visit Washington, D.C. in June to sign a new trade agreement with President Trump.
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi said its fourth-quarter net profit more than tripled to $275.59 million, on stronger revenue. The results show Xiaomi is weathering fairly well a slowing Chinese smartphone market, the world’s biggest, by increasing its focus on markets such as India and Europe.
To compensate for its slowing home market, the company has aggressively expanded in Europe. After broadly rolling out in the continent in early 2018, the company now ranks as the region’s fourth-largest phone vendor. Sales from outside of China made up 40% of the company’s revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018 as the company continues to focus on global expansion as a priority for 2019. Sales from smartphones made up 65% of Xiaomi’s overall revenue in the fourth quarter.
Xiaomi also announced that it’s renewing its commitment to the “Make in India” initiative by inaugurating the seventh manufacturing plant in India. The new plant will be set up in Tamil Nadu in partnership with Flex. The new manufacturing plant has over a 1 million square foot footprint.
Xiaomi who is already making chargers, cables and batteries in India plans to do PCBA (Printed Circuit Board Assembly) as well in the country. This will lead to sourcing components worth 65% of the price of the device locally. The company also stresses the fact that across its seven smartphone manufacturing plants in India, it employs over 20,000 people, of which 95% are women.
...and from Taiwan
Export orders dropped 9% year-on-year to $39 billion last month, the fifth consecutive month of declines, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said. Orders in the first three months declined 8.4% to $108 billion, the biggest quarterly decline since the first quarter of 2009!
The ministry attributed the declines to continuing trade friction between the U.S. and China as well as falling global demand. Department of Statistics Director-General Lin Lee-jen said that the ministry is conservative about export orders for next month, with estimations of $35.5 billion to $36.5 billion. “The smartphone market is saturating, with stagnating sales since the fourth quarter of last year, while servers and [cryptocurrency] mining graphics cards also came in weaker compared with a year earlier due to a higher comparison base,” Lin said.
Export orders for electronic products fell 11.1% to $10.06 billion due mainly to destocking by semiconductor clients, a decline in demand for cryptocurrency mining cards and a fall in DRAM prices. Orders received by optoelectronics makers fell 7.7% to $1.94 billion on falling flat-panel prices, which have been hurt by increases in capacity by Chinese competitors.
In March, production in the electronics component segment fell 14.9% from a year earlier, with integrated circuit firms seeing a 21.3% decline while flat panel makers experiencing a 7.0% drop, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said.
Foreign direct investment into Vietnam rose by 7.5% year-on-year to $5.7 billion in the first four months of 2019. In addition, FDI pledges for new projects, increased capital and stake acquisitions - which indicate the size of future FDI disbursements – surged 81% from a year earlier in the January-April period to $14.6 billion.
LG Electronics will stop producing smartphones in South Korea and move manufacturing to Vietnam, joining global rivals in reorganizing production as they battle a slump in global demand. LG was once one of the world’s top three mobile phone makers. It now has less than 3% of the global market.
Volkswagen AG’s joint venture with China’s Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC) plans to invest $750.8 million in a new electric car factory in eastern Hefei city. Volkswagen has said it plans to produce more than 22 million electric cars in the next 10 years, with over half of them built in China. It plans to launch 14 new energy vehicle (NEV) models in China this year.
China’s car market, the world’s largest, contracted for the first time last year since the 1990s. However, the new energy vehicle segment is still growing rapidly and NEV sales jumped 61.7% to 1.3 million units in 2018.
The global printed electronic market will reach $10.3 billion by 2021 according to Zion Market Research in a new study of the market.
Back from the edge
Sony’s operating profit rose 22% to $8 billion for the 12 months ended in March. This makes it the second straight year of record profits for the Japanese diverse electronics company thanks to the brisk performance of its gaming segment. Sony's continued shift to digital platforms in the entertainment field, including game downloads and music streaming services, also contributed to the record profits.
Solder ball markets are resurging
The global solder balls market is forecasted to reach $323.7 million by 2025 according to Transparency Market Research. Demand for solder balls has been increasing in China and India. The market in Asia Pacific is estimated to expand at a high growth rate due to emerging business in the automotive and electronics in China, India, South Korea, and Malaysia. A rise in demand for solder balls in automotive and electrical & electronics applications is driving the solder balls market across the globe. Introduction of new innovative technologies or products is also projected to open up new markets for solder balls.
Foreign investors have accelerated the selling of their China equities
Figures show $7.78 billion worth of Chinese equities were sold during May via the stock connect, almost three times the outflow in April!
Since the latest round of U.S. tariffs, which caught Beijing by surprise, Chinese state media has gone on the offensive. The People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, warned that China was ready to use its dominance of rare earths, crucial minerals used in electronics, to strike back in the trade war.
One unintended consequence of the trade war is the increased demand for the newly created position of supply chain data analyst.