Thai, Chinese fight over Vietnam market

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Vietnamese consumers have expressed their dissatisfaction with Chinese products

Recent boycotts of Chinese goods in Vietnam have opened the way for Thai imports to give China a run for their money.

by Laura Noggle

“Chinese goods mean low quality and unsafe products” in the eyes of Vietnamese consumers, according to an October 28 report on the Vietnamese English-language news website, VietNamNet Bridge.

This has led to a decline in not only the availability of Chinese imports in Vietnam, but also a direct decrease in sales. A similar report from Huanqiu, a Chinese news site, showed a 50 per cent drop in sales of Chinese products last month at a market in Ho Chi Minh City.

Thai exporters have quickly stepped in to fill the void, with Vietnam shops seeing a sharp increase in consumer imports from Thailand since 2011. For many Vietnamese consumers, Thai products are reasonably priced and of better quality than their Chinese counterparts.

This suspicion of China-made goods is unlikely to change anytime soon and is often reinforced through recalls. From toys and stationary, to food and equipment, massive recalls of Chinese products have been making headlines the world over for years.

August of this year saw Australia recall tires from two of China’s biggest car exporters for containing potentially cancer-producing asbestos. Health concerns are not the only reason many consumers are wary of Chinese-made products. Safety is also a factor. Chinese-made motorbikes used to make up the majority of two-wheeled vehicles in Vietnam, until it became clear that they were not as durable, and often led to accidents, compared to more trustworthy Japanese brands.

Another example in the Vietnam news concerned brassieres. Hundreds were confiscated by police in Hanoi after they were found to contain an unidentified solution that caused skin irritation.

Not all reluctance for Chinese-made products can be assigned to subpar or faulty craftsmanship, however. Some analysts associate the news coverage in Vietnam on problematic China goods for more practical reasons, such as nationalism. Simply put: Chinese products hurt the sales of Vietnamese products.

Another campaign to boycott “Made in China” products began in August 2012 by leaders of the Filipino, Vietnamese and Asian American communities in Washington DC to protest against China’s human rights violations and lack of respect for international laws that protect territorial sovereignty. China’s continued aggression in the South China Sea have raised tensions, but it’s unlikely that attempts at boycotts could be successful enough to curtail China’s bullying actions against Asian neighbours any time soon.

Indeed, a boycott of Chinese-made goods is almost impossible on any large scale, as so much of everyday products are made in China. The difficulty of such an endeavor was detailed in journalist Sara Bongiorni’s book, “A Year Without Made in China,” which covered her family’s resolution to stay away from such products. This personal account only exemplifies what many already know: It is practically impossible for a regular Western consumer to live without Chinese-made products.

Moving south

While an all-out ban on Chinese provisions is unlikely, for any country, any time soon, there is hope for change. Recent spotlights on Chinese products have gone on to reveal part of the root of the problem – extremely poor working conditions.

As media coverage continues to call attention to cracks in the “Made in China” monopoly, other factors are playing a part in turning the tide south towards new opportunities and other countries in Southeast Asia. Many factories have been relocating to ASEAN countries as rising land and labour costs in China make doing business more costly, and potentially more dangerous.

When China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001, fears over the competitiveness of China’s exports helped to initiate the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA). Now, ASEAN countries share in the benefits of a free trade area, and are beginning to capitalise on China’s logistical and practical shortcomings.

Although boycotts are unlikely to produce much of a result in the short term, other ongoing factors are at play to help encourage quality control in China, which in turn, is beneficial for all involved.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Vietnamese consumers have expressed their dissatisfaction with Chinese products

Recent boycotts of Chinese goods in Vietnam have opened the way for Thai imports to give China a run for their money.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Vietnamese consumers have expressed their dissatisfaction with Chinese products

Recent boycotts of Chinese goods in Vietnam have opened the way for Thai imports to give China a run for their money.

by Laura Noggle

“Chinese goods mean low quality and unsafe products” in the eyes of Vietnamese consumers, according to an October 28 report on the Vietnamese English-language news website, VietNamNet Bridge.

This has led to a decline in not only the availability of Chinese imports in Vietnam, but also a direct decrease in sales. A similar report from Huanqiu, a Chinese news site, showed a 50 per cent drop in sales of Chinese products last month at a market in Ho Chi Minh City.

Thai exporters have quickly stepped in to fill the void, with Vietnam shops seeing a sharp increase in consumer imports from Thailand since 2011. For many Vietnamese consumers, Thai products are reasonably priced and of better quality than their Chinese counterparts.

This suspicion of China-made goods is unlikely to change anytime soon and is often reinforced through recalls. From toys and stationary, to food and equipment, massive recalls of Chinese products have been making headlines the world over for years.

August of this year saw Australia recall tires from two of China’s biggest car exporters for containing potentially cancer-producing asbestos. Health concerns are not the only reason many consumers are wary of Chinese-made products. Safety is also a factor. Chinese-made motorbikes used to make up the majority of two-wheeled vehicles in Vietnam, until it became clear that they were not as durable, and often led to accidents, compared to more trustworthy Japanese brands.

Another example in the Vietnam news concerned brassieres. Hundreds were confiscated by police in Hanoi after they were found to contain an unidentified solution that caused skin irritation.

Not all reluctance for Chinese-made products can be assigned to subpar or faulty craftsmanship, however. Some analysts associate the news coverage in Vietnam on problematic China goods for more practical reasons, such as nationalism. Simply put: Chinese products hurt the sales of Vietnamese products.

Another campaign to boycott “Made in China” products began in August 2012 by leaders of the Filipino, Vietnamese and Asian American communities in Washington DC to protest against China’s human rights violations and lack of respect for international laws that protect territorial sovereignty. China’s continued aggression in the South China Sea have raised tensions, but it’s unlikely that attempts at boycotts could be successful enough to curtail China’s bullying actions against Asian neighbours any time soon.

Indeed, a boycott of Chinese-made goods is almost impossible on any large scale, as so much of everyday products are made in China. The difficulty of such an endeavor was detailed in journalist Sara Bongiorni’s book, “A Year Without Made in China,” which covered her family’s resolution to stay away from such products. This personal account only exemplifies what many already know: It is practically impossible for a regular Western consumer to live without Chinese-made products.

Moving south

While an all-out ban on Chinese provisions is unlikely, for any country, any time soon, there is hope for change. Recent spotlights on Chinese products have gone on to reveal part of the root of the problem – extremely poor working conditions.

As media coverage continues to call attention to cracks in the “Made in China” monopoly, other factors are playing a part in turning the tide south towards new opportunities and other countries in Southeast Asia. Many factories have been relocating to ASEAN countries as rising land and labour costs in China make doing business more costly, and potentially more dangerous.

When China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001, fears over the competitiveness of China’s exports helped to initiate the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA). Now, ASEAN countries share in the benefits of a free trade area, and are beginning to capitalise on China’s logistical and practical shortcomings.

Although boycotts are unlikely to produce much of a result in the short term, other ongoing factors are at play to help encourage quality control in China, which in turn, is beneficial for all involved.

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