Taiwan has gained a reputation as a leading bicycle exporter through the efforts of Giant Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and Merida Industry Co. Ltd. But one city in China exports more bicycles than all of Taiwan.
The city, Tianjin, exported 7.9 million bicycles in 2004, reports Asia in Focus. Numbers for a corresponding time period are not yet available for Taiwan. During the period November 2003 through October 2004, however, Taiwan exported about 4.2 million bicycles.
Tianjin is the third largest city in China. Situated on the coast in northern China, it is a major seaport for container ships and the largest near Beijing. The city is also a major hub for bicycle manufacturers. According to various reports, there are 600 to 800 companies that assemble bicycles or make bike parts in the Tianjin area, where one-quarter of all bicycles in China are made. Many of these companies are joint ventures with foreign companies that have invested heavily in the region in the past 10 years. Before then, the state-run Tianjin Flying Pigeon Bicycle Co. built most of the bicycle used in China.
Why so much foreign investment in Tianjin? Bicycles and other goods can be produced inexpensively there. Reports say the Tianjin bicycle exports had a value of $270 million in 2004. If my math is right, that’s $34 per bicycle. That shows quite a mark-up, and profit, when those bicycles get to consumers. That also would explain why even Taiwan’s Giant and Merida have invested in factories on the mainland.