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Chinese Electric Cars Encounter Difficulties in Getting Sales in European Markets

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Chinese Electric Cars Encounter Difficulties in Getting Sales in European Markets

The rise of China’s automotive industry has been meteoric, marked by a transformation from producing basic clones to manufacturing vehicles that rival the world’s best. However, despite the country’s prowess as a manufacturing powerhouse, Chinese cars, particularly electric vehicles, are encountering obstacles in finding buyers in European markets. Imported Chinese electric cars are accumulating at European ports, languishing for extended periods, as manufacturers grapple with the challenge of penetrating European driveways.

Despite garnering positive reviews for their performance, range, quality, and technology, Chinese electric vehicles face an uphill battle in entering an established market dominated by renowned European brands. The complexity of challenging established players in the automotive sector is multifaceted, encompassing factors such as buyer skepticism, lack of brand recognition, trade barriers, and rapid technological advancements.

Read also: US-China Auto Business Growing

Historically, Japan’s automotive industry underwent a similar trajectory of initial skepticism before establishing itself as a global powerhouse. Japanese cars, initially perceived as inferior to their Western counterparts in terms of design and durability, gradually overcame these perceptions through a relentless focus on reliability, affordability, and aesthetic improvements. Drawing parallels, Chinese automakers are rapidly advancing to rival and surpass existing alternatives, leveraging strategic acquisitions of renowned brands like Volvo, Lotus, and MG to bolster their credibility and engineering expertise.

However, despite acquiring Western brands, Chinese automakers struggle to secure loyalty from existing customers of established brands like BMW, Porsche, and Ford. Brand loyalty, reinforced by a legacy of reliability and motor sport success, poses a formidable barrier for Chinese manufacturers to overcome, necessitating a concerted effort to build trust and credibility over time.

Moreover, Chinese electric vehicles face challenges in navigating trade barriers, including high import tariffs imposed by regions such as the EU and the US. Despite cost advantages stemming from economies of scale and efficient manufacturing processes, import tariffs hinder the competitiveness of Chinese cars in international markets, exacerbating the struggle to gain traction among European consumers.

Additionally, the rapid pace of technological evolution in the automotive sector, exemplified by Tesla’s continuous product updates, poses a dilemma for Chinese automakers. The accelerated release of new models risks rendering previous purchases obsolete, potentially eroding consumer confidence in the longevity and value of their investment.

To navigate these challenges and succeed in European markets, Chinese automakers must pivot towards targeting fleet and rental markets, which prioritize cost considerations over brand loyalty. By focusing on mass sales to fleet operators, Chinese manufacturers can accelerate market penetration and gather crucial data on reliability, laying the groundwork for long-term success.

Despite the formidable obstacles, China remains steadfast in its global expansion efforts. However, the road to success in European markets will undoubtedly be fraught with challenges, underscoring the imperative for Chinese automakers to adapt and innovate in order to secure a foothold in this competitive landscape.

 China’s Headphone Export Falls Modestly to $356M in April 2023

China Headphone Exports

In April 2023, approximately 148M units of headphones were exported from China; waning by -5.3% compared with March 2023 figures. In general, exports saw a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in March 2023 when exports increased by 94% against the previous month. The exports peaked at 171M units in September 2022; however, from October 2022 to April 2023, the exports failed to regain momentum.

In value terms, headphone exports reduced markedly to $356M (IndexBox estimates) in April 2023. Over the period under review, total exports indicated a mild increase from April 2022 to April 2023: its value increased at an average monthly rate of +1.5% over the last twelve-month period. The trend pattern, however, indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. Based on April 2023 figures, exports increased by +37.7% against February 2023 indices. The growth pace was the most rapid in March 2023 with an increase of 62% month-to-month. The exports peaked at 472M units in September 2022; however, from October 2022 to April 2023, the exports remained at a lower figure.

Exports by Country

India (21M units), the United States (16M units) and Malaysia (6.1M units) were the main destinations of headphone exports from China, with a combined 29% share of total exports. These countries were followed by Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Thailand, Germany and Egypt, which together accounted for a further 30%.

From April 2022 to April 2023, the most notable rate of growth in terms of shipments, amongst the main countries of destination, was attained by Germany (with a CAGR of +8.2%), while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the United States ($94M) remains the key foreign market for headphone exports from China, comprising 27% of total exports. The second position in the ranking was held by India ($41M), with a 12% share of total exports. It was followed by Malaysia, with a 3.8% share.

From April 2022 to April 2023, the average monthly growth rate of value to the United States stood at +1.9%. Exports to the other major destinations recorded the following average monthly rates of exports growth: India (+11.8% per month) and Malaysia (+2.9% per month).

Export Prices by Country

In April 2023, the headphone price stood at $2.4 per unit (FOB, China), falling by -10.4% against the previous month. In general, export price indicated a mild expansion from April 2022 to April 2023: its price increased at an average monthly rate of +1.8% over the last twelve months. The trend pattern, however, indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. Based on April 2023 figures, headphone export price decreased by -25.1% against February 2023 indices. The growth pace was the most rapid in February 2023 when the average export price increased by 74% m-o-m. As a result, the export price attained the peak level of $3,212 per thousand units. From March 2023 to April 2023, the the average export prices remained at a lower figure.

There were significant differences in the average prices for the major foreign markets. In April 2023, the country with the highest price was the United States ($5.9 per unit), while the average price for exports to Egypt ($510 per thousand units) was amongst the lowest.

From April 2022 to April 2023, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was recorded for supplies to India (+11.6%), while the prices for the other major destinations experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox Market Intelligence Platform 


China’s Increasing Export of Food Products Results in Growth of the Agricultural Sprayers Market Accounting for 94% Growth in Revenue

The global agricultural sprayers market size is predicted to reach US$ 3,106.1 million in 2023 and further register a growth rate of 5.9% CAGR between 2023 and 2033. Total agricultural sprayer sales are poised to generate revenues worth US$ 5,499.5 million by the end of 2033.

Growing focus on farm mechanization to cope with rising food demand along with rising popularity of self-propelled and aerial sprayers is a prominent factor driving agricultural sprayer demand worldwide.

Agricultural sprayers are machines or equipment used for applying liquid substances such as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides to crops or plants. Addition of these liquid substances by using agricultural sprayers allows farmers to maintain crop health during the crop growth cycle.

Agricultural sprayers come in various types, sizes, and designs. Right from simple handheld sprayers to self-propelled and aerial ones, agricultural sprayers have become essential pest control tools across the thriving agricultural sector.


Incorporation of agricultural sprayers helps farmers significantly improve productivity and save labor costs. They also save farmers from pesticide exposure. Thanks, to these features, demand for agricultural sprayers is set to rise at a healthy pace during the projection period.

Rapid shift from manual farming to modern mechanized farming, especially across nations such as China, India, and the United States is expected to bolster agricultural sprayer sales over the next ten years.

The progression of modern farm techniques has a direct impact on the growth of the agricultural sprayers industry. Development and adoption of precision farming techniques provide benefits to production corporations, agricultural cooperatives, agricultural operators, and local governments.

Another crucial factor expected to positively influence expansion of the global agricultural sprayers is the growing concerns regarding food insecurity triggered by population explosion and reduction in arable land.

As per the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, severe food insecurity increased from 10.9% in 2020 to 11.7% in 2021. This is prompting farmers throughout the world to adopt innovative agricultural products and technologies to enhance their crop production.

Agricultural sprayers are important for increasing farm efficacy and crop production. Farmers and agricultural enterprises use their time, money, and other resources to accomplish farming goals in order to produce crops.

The interval between crop planting and harvesting is one of the most important phases of crop production. To prevent the young crop from weed growth, bug, and pest infestation, farmers used various chemicals. For applying them, agricultural sprayers have become ideal tools.

Spraying in agriculture is one of the frequent and important activities for the application of fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. The farmers are shifting from conventional spraying techniques to new-age spraying techniques as well as novel agrochemicals. Thus, increasing farming activities and the production of liquid-based agrochemicals are expected to drive demand for agricultural sprayers.

Further, growing popularity of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sprayers, portable power sprayers, and air-assisted sprayers worldwide will create lucrative growth opportunities for agricultural sprayer manufacturers over the next ten years.

Key Insights

As per FMI, the agricultural sprayers’ demand is predicted to reach 1.2 million units in 2023. Rapid transition towards modern mechanized farming and increasing focus on enhancing crop production to tackle food insecurity are key factors spurring growth in the global agricultural sprayers industry.

Subsequently, awareness associated with the benefits of using advanced agricultural equipment, especially across India, Japan, Korea, and other developing nations is surging. These benefits such as reduced cost, improved efficiency, and reduced manual labor will boost agricultural sprayer sales through 2033.

Agricultural sprayers have become essential equipment for applying liquid agrochemicals to plants or crops. They help farmers to protect crops from pests, improve productivity, and save money. Hence, growing usage of sprayers across thriving agricultural sector is anticipated to aid in the expansion of the global market.

Leading companies in the market are committed towards developing advanced agricultural sprayers to cater to the rising demand from end users. They are continuously introducing innovative spraying equipment to increase sales. This will bode well for the market

chinese car makers

China Carmakers are Ordering Their Own Ships to Get Export Ready

Two of China’s biggest automakers are so determined to ensure their cars make it from factories on the mainland to anyone who wants to drive them they’ve bought their own ships.

BYD Co., which only makes electric and hybrid cars, is going the extra length to avoid any last mile supply chain snarls, ordering at least six ships in October, each with the capacity to carry 7,700 cars, for 5 billion yuan ($710 million). State-owned SAIC Motor Corp., which already operates the world’s fifth-largest shipping fleet via transport arm SAIC Anji Logistics Co., has a tender out for seven new carriers that can each hold 8,900 vehicles.

Representatives for SAIC and BYD declined to comment.

With the vessels in question not expected to come online for several years yet, it’s a bold bet on lasting global consumer demand for Chinese cars. China recently overtook Germany as the world’s second-largest auto exporter, sending almost 2.6 million vehicles abroad in the first 10 months of 2022, eclipsing 2021’s volumes. Even October’s unexpected drop in demand for Chinese goods didn’t derail that upward trajectory with car and chassis exports growing 60% from a year earlier to 352,000 units in the period, or a record high $7.1 billion.

But while auto exports have surged, “the number of car carriers globally has barely increased,” said Xing Yue, the head of Clarksons Research Services in Shanghai, a unit of the world’s largest shipbroker. Shipping costs have skyrocketed and there’s now “lots of investment pouring into building new ships for vehicle transport because of this demand-supply mismatch.”

The lack of vessels is stretching an auto supply chain already worn thin by a scarcity of semiconductors, pandemic-related labor shortages and months of port congestion intensified by China’s Covid-19 lockdowns. Daily rates for vessels that can carry up to 6,500 cars (commonly known as roll-on/roll-off ships, or ro-ros) have surged to about $100,000 a day as of October, more than tenfold 2020 levels and the highest on record since at least 2000, according to Clarksons.

With all the last leg supply chain disruptions it makes sense for Chinese automakers to strike out on their own, according to Tobias Bartz, chairman and chief executive officer of Rhenus Logistics. Ships have become “such a scarcity,” he said on the sidelines of a conference in Singapore last month.

The shortage has meant that some vessels almost 30 years’ old are still operating instead of being scrapped, raising the risk of accidents. Trying to extinguish any lithium-ion battery fires that occur may also be harder.

Chinese automakers aren’t alone in their desire for more freighters. Tesla Inc., which uses Anji Logistics’ car carriers, has also had trouble transporting vehicles from its factories.

“There weren’t enough boats, there weren’t enough trains, there weren’t enough car carriers to actually support the wave” of vehicle deliveries at the end of the last quarter, CEO Elon Musk said during Tesla’s third-quarter earnings call. “Whether we like it or not, we actually have to smooth out the delivery of cars intra-quarter, because there just aren’t enough transportation objects to move them around.”

This latest pinch point may be new but BYD and SAIC aren’t the first automakers to run their own shipping fleets. Toyota Motor Corp. owns shipping company Toyofuji Shipping Co., while South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. has logistics group Hyundai Glovis Co.

It’s also a telling sign of how far Chinese automakers’ export ambitions go.

Just a few years ago, China was mainly selling cars to developing nations in Africa and the Middle East. But the rise in electric-vehicle production has boosted made-in-China cars in Europe, which is now the biggest market for Chinese auto exports. China exported over 852,000 EVs in the first 10 months of this year, up from almost nothing a short while back. Over a fifth of those were Tesla electric cars produced in the US automaker’s Shanghai gigafactory.

To be sure, some aren’t entirely confident that buying ships now is the right decision.

“Car shipping costs are set to come down as the risks shift from backlogs to a glut in the car market,” said Craig Fuller, founder and CEO of supply chain market intelligence provider FreightWaves. With supply chain bottlenecks easing, “the risk is more on the demand side of the equation,” he said.

Until that inflexion point, Chinese automakers appear keen to control as much of the process as they can. Electric vehicle maker Nio Inc. and Chery Automobile Co. are also eying ship orders, local media reported last week.

Among Chinese brands, SAIC is the furthest along overseas. It sold 697,000 vehicles abroad in 2021 — bolstered by the success of MG Motor, the British brand it acquired — and is aiming for 800,000 this year. That’s a way off from meeting its annual shipping capacity, which stands at around 10 million vehicles, but meanwhile SAIC’s ships can and do serve other carmakers too, including Nio.


2020 is Ending: Will Phase One Deal Exports Hit the Mark?

You may have heard about soybeans lately. After a tumultuous year, the crop’s futures surged above $10.70 in October, in large part because of sales to China. The world’s second-largest economy bought more than 17 million tons of soybeans in the current marketing year, according to the Department of Agriculture, surpassing both 2019 and 2018 figures. This buying frenzy pushed prices to a two-year high.

Some of it can be attributed to phase one trade deal between the world’s two largest economies. In January, the United States agreed to lower tariffs on $120 billion worth of Chinese goods. In exchange, China agreed to beef up its imports by $200 billion above 2017 levels over a two year period.

The commitment included soybeans, but it extended to other products too. China committed to importing an additional $77 billion in 2020, made up of $12.5 billion in agricultural products, $32.9 billion in manufactured goods, $18.5 billion in energy products, and $12.8 billion in services. In 2021, that number will increase to $123 billion.

So how are actual exports stacking up? Will China hit those goals this year?

‘The answer is no,’ says Dr. Chad Brown, a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. ‘The agreement itself is written to have an overall target and four sector-specific targets – agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and services. There’s a chance we could get there for agriculture, but not for energy or manufacturing.’

According to the Peterson Institute’s US-China Phase One Tracker, China is behind on purchases in each of these categories. By the end of the third quarter, the country imported $65.9 billion worth of goods. In order to reach the 2020 target, China would have to purchase another $110 billion in the last three months of the year. Forces outside of trade policies are making that difficult or impossible.

Agriculture has the most robust sales so far. Corn and pork exports both exceeded targets for the year, and cotton is on track to meet its goal. But purchases of other products, like wheat and sorghum, are nowhere near their target numbers. Even soybean sales are below target, in spite of the rally this fall. It spells trouble for agriculture exports overall. ‘You’re not going to make up lost soybean sales with pork or lobster or any of that, we just don’t sell nearly enough of that other stuff,’ Brown explains.

Sadly, manufacturing is much further behind. While PPE and semiconductor sales were healthy, automotive and aerospace products (typically some of the largest exports to China by dollar amount) were nowhere close. ‘Before the trade war, China was the second-largest export market for American vehicles, after Canada. Now, tariffs imposed on imports from China made autos more expensive. If you are making a car in the United States, it suddenly costs a lot more to do so,’ says Brown.

By the end of September, auto products had only reached a quarter of their goal. Chinese aircraft imports were little more than 10% of the pledged amount for 2020.

Energy commitments are farthest off the mark. This year, China imported $5.9 billion worth of products from the United States. That’s more than in 2017, but not ‘$200 billion commitment’ more. At $4.4 billion, crude oil purchases are at about half of where they should be to reach their goal. Meanwhile, coal and refined energy are nowhere close. As Dr. Brown explains, the commitments were made in dollar amounts, and as we are all painfully aware, oil prices have been extremely unstable this year. ‘You could pull all the oil out of Texas that exists, but if the price is either zero or negative, you’re not going to make any progress towards these purchase commitments.’

These commitment levels would have been a stretch during a typical year. But of course, 2020 has been anything but typical. As it stands, no United States industry is likely to reach its goals this year, and in 2021, the gap will only widen.



Liuyang, China: Birthplace and Epicenter of Fireworks Production

Many historians credit the Chinese in ancient Liuyang with creating the first natural firecracker around 200 B.C. Roasting bamboo caused it to explode due to its hollow air pockets. The noise it generated was said to ward off evil spirits. Some 800 to 1,000 years later, Chinese alchemists mixed saltpeter, charcoal, sulfur and other ingredients to discover an early form of gunpowder. When they stuffed that mixture into bamboo shoots and threw them into a fire, boom – the first “modern” fireworks were born.

Capitalizing on its pedigree of two centuries of fireworks production, Liuyang has focused its economy on becoming the undisputed fireworks capital of the world. Overall, China produces some 90 percent of the world’s fireworks. Around 60 percent of those are made in Liuyang.

Global Fireworks Exports in 2017

Potential Powder Keg: Mr. Ding’s Dynasty

Whether you bought a multipack of screamers, bottle rockets, and roman candles from a roadside stand, or plan to watch a professionally-designed community display this Fourth of July, chances are the fireworks themselves were produced in China. In 2016, the United States imported $307.8 million worth of fireworks. Nearly all, $296.2 million worth, came from China. U.S. consumers purchase about half of the pyrotechnics China exports globally.

That may not be very surprising when you consider the abundant use of pyrotechnics at American events and celebrations. “Thunder Over Louisville” is an annual event that blasts through 60 tons of fireworks in 30 minutes.

What might be concerning, however, is the discovery by a Washington Post investigative team that around 70 percent of all Chinese fireworks entering the United States are produced, warehoused, transported, and ultimately imported under the control of companies owned by just one Chinese businessman, Ding Yan Zhong. The reporters estimate that Mr. Ding’s companies have imported 7,400 containers, 241 million pounds, of fireworks so far this year. Of the 108 containers that arrive on average every day, 72 are controlled by Mr. Ding.

Another Example of China on the Smile Curve?

There is a brighter side for the American fireworks industry. While there’s practically no firework manufacturing left in the United States, jobs in and around the fireworks industry follow a familiar pattern where the lower-skilled work is performed in China and other, higher value-added jobs can be found occupied by Americans. Here are some examples.

Pyrotechnic engineers are trained chemists who deploy their knowledge of how certain compounds react with other inputs to create bigger, brighter, and more exciting pyrotechnics. We love the classic chrysanthemum, peonies, and willow fireworks that send bright stars scattering into arcing trails. But we also await each Fourth of July the new patterns and colors these engineers have dreamed up.

The mean salary for a U.S.-based chemical engineer in 2015 was $103,960. Contrast this job with a firework maker in Liuyang, China, where most fireworks are still made by hand, by women for a mere $80-285 a month depending on skill level. It’s not just low paying; it’s dangerous work. According to a Slate article, Wang Haoshui, chief engineer with China’s State Administration of Workplace Safety, told a Chinese newspaper that only coal mining was considered a more dangerous occupation in China.

Today China produces 90% of the world’s fireworks.

In more desirable parts of the fireworks ecosystem, American show producers spend their days “choreographing” pyrotechnic displays for large scale events in sports arenas (Super Bowl halftime show and the Olympics) and concert venues (Kiss and Mötley Crüe). Winco Fireworks in Prairie Village, Kansas, imports and distributes fireworks but also innovates electrical firing systems. The company just launched the FireFly firing system that allows backyard enthusiasts to sync their music using Bluetooth® technology while detonating their fireworks wirelessly. Enthusiasts turned entrepreneurs are also common in the American fireworks industry. Scott Smith is one such example. He’s an electrical and computer systems engineer from Ganesvoort in upstate New York and founded COBRA, a company that creates software for designing fireworks shows.

Growth is Explosive in China

As with so many other consumer products, demand for fireworks is growing so rapidly in China that Liuyang manufacturers are turning their attention inward. China’s Spring Festival and lunar New Year celebrations offer healthy competition to demand for fireworks at American Fourth of July parties.

Chinese manufacturers also say it’s getting harder to export due to strict U.S. requirements. The U.S. American Tobacco and Firearms agency (ATF) requires “anyone in the business of importing, manufacturing, dealing in, or otherwise receiving display fireworks” to first obtain a Federal explosives license or permit from ATF for the specific activity. Firecrackers sold to the American public can only have 50 milligrams or less of pyrotechnic composition per firecracker.

China’s regulations are more permissive, not simply as they pertain to manufacturing, but also with respect to the power consumer fireworks can pack. Fireworks available for purchase can be several times more potent than fireworks that have been banned in the United States.

US fireworks consumption

Trade Ensures the Continuation of an American Tradition

The first American fireworks display is said to have taken place in Jamestown in 1608. According to historians, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife on July 3, 1776 in which he predicted that the Fourth of July, the day on which the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, would be “the most memorable in the history of America… celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”

He went on to suggest the commemorations “be solemnized with pomp and parade…and illuminations [fireworks]…from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.” Wherever and with whomever you enjoy those colorful bursts in the night sky, celebrate this symbol of American independence and also the economic dynamism we currently enjoy thanks to our role in the global economy.


Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fifteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.