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Chinese hit back at quality jibes

Firms maintain that their products are good quality and that Europe cannot compete with production and labour costs

Chinese building product manufacturers have hit back at accusations of price undercutting in the market, in return for poor quality products.

And some manufacturers argue that because of the plethora of building projects in the market, buyers are more influenced by price rather than quality.

“China has several advantages - such as a very big population, and low labour and production costs - which provides companies with an opportunity to produce more cheaply, but this doesn’t mean quality is undermined,” said Kenneth Sun, assistant president, Beijing Building Materials Group.

“But as a Chinese company, I also think it’s unfair that our product prices are so cheap - we don’t want to sell products at low prices, but the price just covers the cost of the labour. We also have extra export costs, such as paying a patent fee to the original producer of our particular range of products.”

While Spanish, Italian and Turkish companies have traditionally been the mainstay of the ceramics, flooring and tiling sectors, Chinese companies are gradually making inroads into the market and providing products adapted to the price demanded by contractors operating in the region, according to Peter Zhu, sales manager of the stones department, Yekalon Industry.

“In some ways, there are almost too many projects in Dubai to supply to, and everyone wants some of the action,” he said.

“We face a lot of challenges here. People want the product at a very low price, but are also concerned about quality - and so they ask for good quality products, but only want to pay low prices for it, and continually ask for discounts.

“In that respect, I don’t think some of the European companies can compete with us, because the market here is primarily concerned about price, then quality and service, and so the customers come to us.

“Of course, because we can produce cheaply, people have this image of China producing poor quality. There are good products in China, but there are also bad ones, like in any country,” he added.

Shahas VC, sales executive of Al Fajer Establishment, a supplier of material on behalf of Italian ceramics firms, Ceramica Globo, said the influx of Chinese competition hasn’t yet had a serious impact on business.

“It does affect us, but for the time being it isn’t serious,” he said. “Spanish and Italian products might be more expensive, but they last longer.”

As China gains more prominence in the world economy, its government has faced pressure from major trading partners, such as the EU and US to ensure production of quality products and crackdown on counterfeit goods.

“Companies have become more rigorous, and those producing fake products just for short-term profit are beginning to disappear,” added Sun.

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