Is the bloom off the rose in Vietnam?
The Vietnam News Service is reporting that with many businesses shifting from production to imports, Vietnam’s electronics industry is “standing on the verge of extinction.” More than 90% of the nation’s electronics exports are performed by foreign-based countries, the Viet Nam Electronics Business Association maintains. Meanwhile, major OEMs are closing domestic plants and switching to an import model to serve Vietnamese customers.
For those who see Vietnam as an alternative to China, this is not the wakeup call they expected.
Southeast Asian assembly process equipment companies have approached Western markets in fits and starts.
A few have made inroads: From time to time, we have seen JT and Fulongwin soldering equipment at US plants, usually smaller ones (Flextronics is an exception) and often on the US West Coast. But while we’ve been reporting for more than a decade on the availability of literally scores of Chinese-made brands, some of which are very popular in Taiwan and China, it’s still highly unusual to see any make it across the ocean.
Many have been stymied by patent issues that effectively have blocked them specifically from the US and European markets. Another problem is finding good channel partners. From time to time, firms ranging from independent reps like FHP Reps and Bill West to solder paste vendors like Qualitek have tried, with limited success. Service and access to spare parts have been limiting factors.
That’s what makes Friday’s announcement from GKG so interesting. GKG has named Juki as exclusive distributor of its screen printers in the Americas. Known primarily for its placement equipment, Juki has been inching toward a full-line offering for the past couple years, having begun distributing Intertec’s selective soldering equipment in 2009.
For years, DEK and Speedline have dominated the Western printer markets, with Asys/Ekra in third with an estimated 10% share. Juki’s track record and never-say-die approach to selling makes it a formidable competitor. However, Juki has many of the same distributors as Speedline, and it is unclear that they will give up the latter for a new player.
But the real prize may be the emerging South America market. As Juki CEO Bob Black told us, “In Latin America, out major competitors are offering complete lines. To be competitive, we need to do the same.” And Juki has the breadth and depth in its service department that many standalone reps have not.
Keep an eye on this.
The SIA has submitted a report to the US Department of Commerce outlining actions required to meet the goal of doubling semiconductor exports by 2014.
To to so, here’s what the trade group recommends:
- Putting funding for basic research at national laboratories and U.S. universities on path to double by 2016.
- Enacting tax policies that will retain and attract investment in R&D and manufacturing facilities in America.
- Reforming U.S. export controls and streamlining the licensing process.
- Providing incentives to promote energy efficiency and development of renewable energy sources.
- Avoiding climate change policies that add costs, limit flexibility, and otherwise make US companies less competitive.
- Enhancing the U.S. workforce through education reform, expanding research programs at US universities, and immigration reform to make it easier for foreign students graduating from US universities with master’s and Ph.D. degrees to obtain green cards.
Interesting stuff. It’s not too far off the occasional calls that various bare board trade groups have made. Of course, the latter never really went anywhere. I’m guessing the monies the semiconductor makers spend on lobbying Washington will have a different result.