Globalisation uber alles

So if I’m managing a £100M project that is steel intensive, do I buy Chinese steel that is half the price of European equivalents. I can’t buy British steel; the products I need aren’t made in the UK any more.

To answer my own question, I’m going to buy the cheapest steel of the quality required. Which will almost certainly be Chinese.
As a Project Manager you are only responsible and interested in getting it built on time, to the right spec. as cheaply as possible and collecting your Performance related Bonus on top of your Annual Income.

So you will buy from China.

Looking at it from a non Project Manager point of view, and especially in the light of recent events, you may wonder if it was such a good idea to give up on the capability of once making the best steel ( amongst other things ) in the world.
 

bob231

War Hero
I think we've been round this buoy before; it's not so much that we've given up our steel-making capability, it's that we've given up making the low-grade simple stuff. It's always energy intensive so cheap steel (which is shockingly cheap) cannot be viably manufactured in the UK. We can't fix that without colossal investment in (probably nuclear) generating capacity.

High-grade and complex steel are different beasts; the expertise and quality control required make it worth doing here.
 
As a Project Manager you are only responsible and interested in getting it built on time, to the right spec. as cheaply as possible and collecting your Performance related Bonus on top of your Annual Income.

So you will buy from China.

Looking at it from a non Project Manager point of view, and especially in the light of recent events, you may wonder if it was such a good idea to give up on the capability of once making the best steel ( amongst other things ) in the world.
Britain hasn’t made steel at a competitive price for the best part of 50 years. Nor has most of Europe or the USA.

The Americans subsidised their steel industry and protected it with tariffs. The EU protected it’s with tariffs. All that does is tax competitive, productive industry in order to subsidise non-competitive unproductive industry. I can’t remember the exact figures, but US research showed that the cost to the economy of protecting a job in their steel industry was something like three times the workers salary.

Bottom line, there’s no point making steel in the UK if we don’t have comparative advantage. Back to Smith, Riccardo and Torrens.
 
I think we've been round this buoy before; it's not so much that we've given up our steel-making capability, it's that we've given up making the low-grade simple stuff. It's always energy intensive so cheap steel (which is shockingly cheap) cannot be viably manufactured in the UK. We can't fix that without colossal investment in (probably nuclear) generating capacity.

High-grade and complex steel are different beasts; the expertise and quality control required make it worth doing here.
And there's another thing, Nuclear Power.

From a leading position in design, manufacture and operation we now cannot afford one - unless its financed by China or built by France.

Its almost as if CND was trying to hamstring us.
 
Britain hasn’t made steel at a competitive price for the best part of 50 years. Nor has most of Europe or the USA.

The Americans subsidised their steel industry and protected it with tariffs. The EU protected it’s with tariffs. All that does is tax competitive, productive industry in order to subsidise non-competitive unproductive industry. I can’t remember the exact figures, but US research showed that the cost to the economy of protecting a job in their steel industry was something like three times the workers salary.

Bottom line, there’s no point making steel in the UK if we don’t have comparative advantage. Back to Smith, Riccardo and Torrens.
Can you really guarantee quality from a Chinese product ? I am not an expert on metallurgy, but quality is something measured over 20-50 years, so for instance I would not bet my life on the quality of Chinese steel just as I would not set my stall by cement and concrete manufactured by cosa nostra builders incorporated in italy.

The central argument of the thread is also the economics has being allowed to operate somewhat in isolation of politics and my view is post-corona and faceing a long term depression, its long past time we put democracy back on the pedestal and not what is cost effective for the next financial year.
 
If we think back to the Japanese car imports in the early 70's they gained a terrible reputation for being absolute pieces of crap [and that was from people buying British cars] look at them now, world leaders.

One could argue they set the standard for all to follow on the other side Chinese manufacturing is at the Japanese standards of 1976.

they still can’t even make a moderately durable knock off of the Honda Cub
 

ROMFT

Old-Salt
Correct. Some have seen the light!
Some have realised that when they open a production line in China, 1 year later a Chinese company will open close by & somehow or other will have acquired all the necessary information to produce the same product but at half the price. Only the most naive will take new technologies to China for production purposes now.
OK, they are smart, but maybe too smart for their own good. They want to equal the USA militarily, including the Navy. They want a space program. They want to buy everything everywhere, this is a balloon waiting to bust, God help us all when that eventually happens.

My first post on ARSSE, & it leaves me feeling a bit depressed .
 
Can you really guarantee quality from a Chinese product ? I am not an expert on metallurgy, but quality is something measured over 20-50 years, so for instance I would not bet my life on the quality of Chinese steel just as I would not set my stall by cement and concrete manufactured by cosa nostra builders incorporated in italy.

The central argument of the thread is also the economics has being allowed to operate somewhat in isolation of politics and my view is post-corona and faceing a long term depression, its long past time we put democracy back on the pedestal and not what is cost effective for the next financial year.
The core problem with Chinese steel is that it is usually an alloy steel to take benefit from Chinese export trade rebates. EU specifications for structural steel apply only to non-alloy steels. With few exceptions, this is entirely manageable if engineers understand what is going on and specify the correct welding processes, coatings etc.

The big problem is that there are too few engineers supervising construction now. There aren’t enough qualifying and many of us have walked into other more lucrative roles. So contractors supply inappropriate steel for the specification and it isn’t identified until too late.

Chinese steel standards differ significantly from European and US standards. It’s not that they are bad; just different. Their steel industry is modern, well automated and regulated. The Chinese supplier will have provided steel to the specification he contracted for. He’s not ripped anyone off.

Western steel companies make a lot of noise about the poor quality of Chinese steel. It’s noise though: the steel is manufactured to standard. It’s just that the standards aren’t the same and many people in the industry don’t understand the differences.
 

ROMFT

Old-Salt
In a previous job I pointed out to the boss the appalling quality of the products we were importing to NL to export to the rest of the EU & Turkey. Especially the welding, especially on hydraulic lifting gear, potentially deadly for someone sometime.
He didn't want to hear it. Clients got cheap equipment, he made a quick profit, ok he was up to the neck in the red with the bank, but neither long term vision or morality made it into the equation & his business was growing.
We (whoever we are nowadays ?) have to change, or go back a few steps & reconsider. Don't see that happening somehow, the financial crisis didn't change much & while deadly COVID hasn't killed enough to change people deep down, most people are only longing for a return to how things were.
 

Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
I don't know. There are interesting things happening in the background (and would. probably< have had more visibility if it wasn't for the virus). See Advanced Nuclear Technologies
The advanced nuclear sector has the potential to play an important part in the UK’s Industrial Strategy building on our existing economic strengths and competitive advantages in nuclear whilst shaping new advanced nuclear markets and contributing to tackling the Clean Growth Grand Challenge.
We have an industrial strategy?
 

Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
Globalism does not need to be eradicated completely, and as you say it couldnt be.
I see lots of parallels between globalist ideology and a really badly run IT project whose leadership has no concept of the fallacies of distributed computing.


Now in the government and industry the supposed leadership are paid to be risk aware, but are ideologically blind.

Fundamentally Covid was merely a wake up call, next fortnight's supper is still on the boat though the blissful ignorance of this fact has finally been dispelled. Can think of several naval strategy thinkers who have been warning of such for some time....
 
I see lots of parallels between globalist ideology and a really badly run IT project whose leadership has no concept of the fallacies of distributed computing.


Now in the government and industry the supposed leadership are paid to be risk aware, but are ideologically blind.

Fundamentally Covid was merely a wake up call, next fortnight's supper is still on the boat though the blissful ignorance of this fact has finally been dispelled. Can think of several naval strategy thinkers who have been warning of such for some time....
I’m not sure that parallel is valid.

Globalisation is not a ideology; it’s a framework to understand and benefit from the inevitable consequences of man’s ingenuity and initiative. Politicians and leaders aren’t managing globalisation because they can’t. Short of repressing individual and collective freedoms, there’s no way leaders can stop us buying the products we want to buy from the people we want to buy from.

It’s also nothing new. For fear of repeating myself, Adam Smith defined the basic concepts that drive globalisation well over two hundred years ago.
 
I’m not sure that parallel is valid.

Globalisation is not a ideology; it’s a framework to understand and benefit from the inevitable consequences of man’s ingenuity and initiative. Politicians and leaders aren’t managing globalisation because they can’t. Short of repressing individual and collective freedoms, there’s no way leaders can stop us buying the products we want to buy from the people we want to buy from.

It’s also nothing new. For fear of repeating myself, Adam Smith defined the basic concepts that drive globalisation well over two hundred years ago.
But isn't the point of this summed up in 'short of repressing individual and collective freedoms .....' which is exactly what the leaders of PRC do both internally and externally by other means ?
 
But isn't the point of this summed up in 'short of repressing individual and collective freedoms .....' which is exactly what the leaders of PRC do both internally and externally by other means ?
Doesn’t mean we should do it to ourselves.
Not that the UK’s wealth wasn’t built on the long term suppression of freedoms.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the world needs a very close look at how it interacts with China. But that is way different from closing off trade. I would suggest that it will be trade that eventually breaks the Chinese regime. May take a long time, but it will happen.
 

Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
Globalisation is not a ideology;
Then we are talking of different things.

Globalism is clearly an ideological part of many lefty or Maoist movements. Climate ecowank, feminism, international socialism, multiculturalism and anything that promotes international bodies with direct power over the nation state.

You appear to be confusing globalisation with mere international trade.

You also appear to be equating international trade entirely with comparative advantage, which likely doesn't even hold true on a pure cost basis.

Once you factor in strategic factors the risk isn't worth the reduced cost, if that even exists.

Hence the analogy I drew between the fallacies of distributed computing and ideological globalism holds true when you consider the strategic needs of a nation state.
 
Top