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Highly Dependent on Chinese Manufacturing: 65% of Europe’s Imported PCBs Come from China

Highly Dependent on Chinese Manufacturing: 65% of Europe’s Imported PCBs Come from China

Significant Decline in Europe’s PCB Industry Market Share: Study by IPC

According to a recent study on EU industrial policy by the International Electronics Industry Connection Association (IPC), Europe’s share in the global printed circuit board (PCB) market is experiencing a significant decline.

This trend has been particularly evident over the past 20 years. Compared to the golden age of the European PCB industry in the 1990s, the current PCB output value in the EU is about $2 billion, accounting for only 2% of the global total, far below the previous 20-30% global share.

65% of Europe's Imported PCBs Come from China

The PCB industry is the largest segment of the global electronic components industry in terms of output value. America, Europe, and Japan were early starters, holding over 70% of the global PCB production value before 2000. However, in the past 20 years, thanks to advantages in labor, resources, policies, and industrial clustering, global electronic manufacturing capacity has shifted to Asia, particularly China and South Korea. Since 2006, China has surpassed Japan to become the world’s largest producer of PCBs.

The decline of Europe’s PCB industry is closely related to global industrial shifts and technological development. As global manufacturing has concentrated in Asia, especially China, the number of PCB manufacturing plants in Europe has dropped to less than 180. Meanwhile, Europe’s dependence on Made-in-China has been increasing.

The proportion of global PCB output value produced by China has risen from 8.10% in 2000 to 54.60% in 2021, leading the world in both output and value. According to previous forecasts by Prismark, Asia will continue to dominate the global PCB market in the future, with China’s central position becoming even more solid. The compound annual growth rate of China’s PCB industry is expected to be 4.30%, with a total output value reaching $54.605 billion by 2026.

Europe's Challenges and Future in the PCB Industry

In fact, 65% of all PCBs imported by Europe come from China. This percentage highlights China’s dominant role in the global electronics supply chain and reflects Europe’s outsourcing trend in this field. Chinese PCB manufacturers have an advantage in production volume and demonstrate strong competitiveness in the production of specialized, high value-added products.

"Europe accounts for only 2.3% of global PCB production and 11.5% of electronics assembly. Revitalizing and developing these areas is crucial for establishing a strong European electronic manufacturing ecosystem, promoting dual transformation, and fostering European innovation," IPC states in the report.

The IPC report emphasizes that to remain its competitiveness, Europe needs to focus more on high-value, highly complex, and highly demanding PCB products, which require exceptional speed, reliability, and quality.

In response to these challenges, Europe is taking a series of measures, including increasing investment in the local PCB industry, encouraging technological innovation and industrial upgrades, and actively seeking diversified supply chain strategies to reduce its reliance on a single market China. These efforts aim to build a more resilient electronics industry chain, ensuring the healthy development of Europe’s electronics industry and providing consumers with more reliable and diverse product choices.

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