It is the same story in manufacturing, For time-insensitive goods and long production runs, China is still the clear winner for global factory relocation. But when businesses need products finely tailored and delivered quickly and flexibly, then eastern Europe scores highly.

In the garment industry, for example, foreign companies are doing a booming trade with east European countries in the business of "fast fashion"-ordered and manufactured in speedy response to sales trends.

"Fast fashion is a pound or two more per piece from central and eastern Europe, but customers are prepared to pay," says Ralph Goodstone, a textile entrepreneur who brokers deals between low-cost suppliers and rich-country customers. The product cycle for garments from China, he explains, is about three months-with four weeks of that time spent at sea. From eastern Europe, by contrast, it is just four to six weeks, including a day or two for delivery by lorry.

The Economist


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