• Friday, July 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

How reliable are Chinese products?

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As in many other parts of the world, made-in-China products are quite common and popular in Nigeria, Anne Agbaje examines how the quality of China imports into Nigeria is increasingly coming into question.

Before now, China products were popular for their competitive prices and reasonable quality and style. But today, the quality of these products has also come into question now and again in the US, and some other countries, as some interest groups say the problem is more political than quality related. They say the US is concerned about the volume of China products being imported into its space and the implications on the local employment market.

China has become a major exporter of goods to many other parts of the world over the years, because it has developed its technology base remarkably and has relatively low labour costs.

A trip to Balogun Market in Lagos Island reveals large numbers of Chinese traders and shops in operation. Also, their popularity is affirmed by the hoards of Nigerian shoppers who come from different parts of Lagos and beyond, to patronise them.

Products on sale include household appliances, baby items, fashion accessories, plastic materials, and cups, clothing, among other items.

Chinese products are also seen in major markets in Lagos, like the Computer Village, Alaba International Market, Trade Fair Auto Spare Parts Market, popularly called Aspanda, and Westminister, among others, and almost all the markets in the country are swamped with made-in-China goods.

The curious aspect is the Chinese made look-alike of popular European and American brands.

Nigerians like and use mobile phones of various models, and the mobile phones market in Nigeria alone has kept some Asian companies in business and their businesses have done so well that they have moved a large chunk of their businesses to Nigeria.

Also, the Computer Village in Lagos is not left out. For instance, consider a situation where you buy a phone with two SIMs, TV, games, radio and too many functions; only a made-in-China phone could have such numerous functions and sold at a very low price, even if it lasts for just a few months.

Same goes for computer accessories – if you buy some made-in-China flash drives or mouse, it is said they may not last very long.

According to Tunde Ayobami, a computer instructor and dealer in computer wares, “it is common to see different flash drives with brand names such as LG, Sony, Panasonic or HP written on them, but on a closer examination, you would discover that they are made in China and not the original versions.”

Abayomi says “people prefer these Chinese products because they are not very expensive. One thing you should know is that we buy what is in demand, and whether we like it or not, we must buy them because we must sell.”

Another trader, Seun Alao, says, “these Chinese products are the ones our money can buy and with them we can make some money. Some of them are original and these are expensive. There are also the low quality and some are pirated products.”

For Joyce Edem, “for a very long time now, I could not afford a washing machine, but two years ago, I came across a dealer on mini washing machines made in China and it was affordable so I got one for myself. I am still using it till date. It might not be of an extra superior quality, but it is meeting my needs.”

Today, up to half of goods on display in shops around Nigeria carry ‘made-in-China’ tags.

Also, apart from pushing their products through Nigerian traders, Chinese traders and outlets are visible in cities such as Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja.

Other governments concerned about the quality of China exports have engaged the relevant agencies directly to seek solution. Also, countries such as the US have clearly spelt out and reasonably enforced standards for imports. Perhaps, Nigeria needs to do more of this.

Also, in many cases, it is said that Nigerian importers are usually culpable in the matter of poor quality products from countries such as China. It is said that the Nigerian traders ask for low quality products in a bid to maximise profit.