Global commodity prices respond to the laws of supply and demand. When supplies are scarce, prices rise. With manufacturing gaining steam worldwide, prices are up for many major commodities. How does this impact your China supply chain? First, a little perspective.
Why international commodity prices are up
The China effect. Simply stated, China’s demand, a major driver of worldwide demand, is up. The Australian website reported “former Morgan Stanley chief economist Stephen Roach, who is among those arguing the China downturn story has been oversold, says that if China meets its 6.7 per cent growth target, it will account for 1.2 percentage points of global GDP growth, or roughly 40 per cent of the total.” So as China’s economy expands and “the problems affecting the state-owned heavy industry are effectively partitioned from the rest of the economy, commodity prices may show further gains.” 
Also, The IMF reported in October of 2016 that “the announcement of China’s stimulus package increased metal demand prospects and prices.” China is directing investments toward the steel-hungry construction sector.
When oil prices increase, prices for daughter industries like plastics as well as heavy-energy consuming industries like steel—also increase. Petroleum prices have consistently risen historically and in recent history.
Bloomberg Composite Commodity Index, November 2016: As a result, prices for steel products (hot-rolled steel, cold-rolled steel, stainless steel) and plastics (ABS, PVC) are trending up. These increases are impacting manufacturers everywhere in the world. It’s not just an issue in China.
Sources: Steel (in English): http://www.mysteel.net/
What to do about it?
Naturally, there’s no guarantee that prices won’t drop again soon. We are not financial advisors or commodity experts. If history is our guide, in general, commodity prices are going up – and it does make sense to be looking at the granular detail. For example, a product which has both cold rolled steel and stainless steel will have different market forces (and percentages) influencing cost. Find out what this means for your product.
One defence against rising prices is to play offense. Some buyers are placing full-year blanket orders and making down payments on the entire order in order to lock in material prices (a major driver of cost). The savings, of course, must offset the carrying costs and risks of inventory.
This approach may not be an option for many businesses. Typically we see the passing along of increases and decreases as market conditions change. Having a cost breakdown for your product which includes each line item is useful so adjustments are formulaic.
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