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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Chinese vs. Spanish - Which to Learn?

There are a lot of reasons why to learn Chinese and I thought I would do a comparison with Spanish. In my opinion, the two languages you should consider learning are either Spanish or Chinese. Or you can be like my Brother-in-law and speak both!

In Southern California, knowing Spanish can be an asset. It allows you better communication with many workers if you are running a small manufacturer or other type of small business. There is also the fact that maquiladoras on the Mexican US border do a lot of manufacturing. There was until recently a lot of movement to cheaper labor sources, but with the increase in fuel some businesses are moving operations closer to reduce the shipping cost. NY Times article - Shipping Costs Start to Crimp Globalization. And there is a huge market in Central and South America. A challenge for South America is a lot of their production is still in raw materials, being sent to China for processing.

Major areas that Mexico and South America will need to work on is infrastructure (without good roads it's hard to do effective manufacturing) and education. An advantage that Mexico has is being close to the US, that can lower transportation costs. The challenge in Central and South America is often because of the ruling class controls everything and it's hard to make changes, the best and brightest often go to the US. I have known quite a few Chinese who are now in the US, who came originally from Costa Rica, Brazil, or Argentina. Yes, I admit Brazil is doing much better now days.

China for better and worse, is putting a lot of emphasis on their infrastructure. Education is another area that China is also working on. China is also emphasizing moving up the value chain for manufactured goods. Currently, China is the factory of the world. Items that require lower cost labor are moving to Vietnam and other countries. As well as moving into other areas of China that have lower cost labor. There is also a huge developing market within China, so China has both the opportunity of exporting items, as well as a potential market. The government of China is very pro-growth (good and bad). There is also a lot of entrepreneurial and can do spirit in China.

Truthfully, there is opportunity in both the Chinese and South American markets. I see the Chinese market as more exciting and going through more growth than the overall South American market due to education and infrastructure issues. And for this reason I have a preference for Learning Chinese vs. Spanish.

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