Konica Minolta Shifting Production in Response to Trade War

Japan’s Nikkei-Asian Review reported today that Konica Minolta of Japan will shift some of its production of its copier/MFPs to Malaysia in order to lessen its dependence on its Chinese manufacturing.

Konica Minolta joins Ricoh Company of Japan, which also recently announced that it will shift some of its copier/MFP production out of China to Thailand in response to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. U.S. tariffs have been levied on various printer and copier parts made in China. U.S. President Donald Trump more recently threatened to levy a 25-percent tariff on some $300 billion of Chinese goods, which includes copiers, a move that could come as early as this month if a deal isn’t reached between the United States and China.

Atsuo Takemoto, general manager of Konica Minolta’s manufacturing unit, said the company wants to make 60 percent of its copier/MFPs in Malaysia and 40 percent in China. Production of its copier/MFPs is said to be currently split evenly between the two countries.

Takemoto told the Nikkei Asian Review: “Two years ago, China was producing most of our printing products, and Malaysia only about 20 percent. But now [Malaysia] is already making 50 percent, and our target is to increase this to 60 percent.”

The Nikkei Asian Review also reports that since last year, more than 20 listed Chinese companies have relocated or expanded manufacturing abroad, or are planning to do so.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Sharp and Kyocera could also join Ricoh on its way out of China. Sharp produces most of its U.S.-bound copier/MFPs in China’s Jiangsu Province.

To support increasing production in Malaysia, Koncia Minolta’s Takemoto said the company was investing “a significant sum” in upgrading its factory in the southern state of Melaka, around 100 miles from Kuala Lumpur in Thailand.

“For now, we have no plans to build more factories in China or Malaysia,” Takemoto explained. “But we are going to modernize the Malaysian plant with state-of-the-art machinery and other technology.”

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