Like their counterparts in America, China's suppliers feel the pain of a slumping U.S. vehicle market.
Beginning in 2003, exports of Chinese auto parts to the United States averaged nearly 39 percent annual growth, peaking at $7.85 billion for 2007. But through the first 10 months of 2008, exports fell 4.6 percent from the year-ago period, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Jackie Chen is general manager of Tongzhou Jingcheng Machinery Co. His factory in Jiangsu's coastal Tongzhou Development Zone makes stamped metal brackets and ships 70 percent of its output to Ford Motor Co. and General Motors in the United States.
"This year has been a disaster," Chen said at the Gasgoo event. "Orders from the U.S. have fallen 40 percent."
Of the nearly 50 other component makers operating in the Tongzhou zone at the beginning of this year, Chen reckons that one-fifth have shut down.
Yet by at least one measure, interest in China as a sourcing location is increasing.
When Gasgoo held its sourcing event a year ago, about 30 global component buyers attended. This time, there were more than 70.
GM, Ford and Chrysler LLC sent sourcing managers, as did PSA/Peugeot-Citroen. Major suppliers present included Robert Bosch GmbH, Magna International Inc., Delphi Corp., Continental AG, Lear Corp., BorgWarner Inc. and Honeywell International Inc.
Gasgoo's president, Kevin Chen, estimates that 30 percent of the buyers attending the event represented the China units of global companies that were looking for components to use in China. The rest of the attendees were sent by global sourcing divisions looking to buy components in China and ship them overseas.
Belonging to the latter category was Hanson Liu, who buys parts for Magna Intier Automotive Seating.
"Everybody's feeling the pain of the U.S. downturn," Liu said. "We're under tremendous pressure from our customers to make savings. That's where China can help."