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The repatriation of manufacturing: beyond the rhetoric

February 1, 2014
François Dupuis, Vice-President and Chief Economist • Yves St-Maurice, Senior Director and Deputy Chief Economist • Joëlle Noreau, Senior Economist

After more than a quarter century of moving manufacturing production to the emerging countries (China in particular), we now see some disenchantment. Some people are even talking about repatriating manufacturing to the United States, Canada and Quebec. While this idea has its charms and gets good press coverage, it is far from clear that it will materialize on a large scale. It would be an illusion to believe that Quebec will win back the 160,000 wage-earning jobs that were lost between 2001 and 2013. Even if production were to return to the peaks of 2007 and 2008, technological progress and productivity gains would reduce labour requirements.

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