It's recently come to light that the recently announced Fujifilm X-T4 (opens in new tab) is being manufactured in both Japan and China. While this may initially seem like an innocuous piece of information, it's definitely a curious move from Fujifilm upon further reflection.
It's not unusual for camera companies to produce different products in different countries. For example Fujifilm produces its flagship Fujifilm X-H1 in Japan, while its cheaper cameras tend to be made in China. This can be a great way for camera companies to shave a few hundred dollars off the price point of their camera and make it cheaper for consumers to buy.
• Read more: Best Fujifilm camera (opens in new tab)
However, splitting the manufacturing process over two different countries is a little less common. This means that both the parts and skilled labor needed are split, which surely cannot be the most efficient (or the cheapest) way to create a product.
In order to justify this, Fujifilm must have a good reason. Well, rumor website Fuji Rumors reported that (opens in new tab) Fujifilm North America has stated: "The X-T4 will be produced in both China and Japan facilities using the same high Fujifilm standards and quality assurances… North American stock will be sourced from Japan." This statement can be found as a comment on this Instagram post (opens in new tab).
Based on this info, Fuji Rumors has put forward a convincing argument for why Fujifilm has split manufacturing across Japan and China: "My guess is that the decision was made to bypass the Trump extra tariffs on products made in China."
The trade war (opens in new tab) between the US and China has slowed down recently, but the tariffs that Trump's government put into place in 2018 are still in effect. This means that it would cost Fujifilm more to import cameras from China than it would for Japan. Fujifilm's decision to split manufacturing across two different countries means that they don't have to produce all of their cameras in the more expensive Japanese factories, but they also won't need to pay increased import tax in the US.
Presumably, any added cost or inconvenience from producing the Fujifilm X-T4 in two different countries is absorbed by the savings of avoiding the US import taxes.
While there has been no official confirmation from Fujifilm that this is definitely related to the US tariffs against China, it's interesting to see how these import taxes are affecting the camera industry.
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