Long route to sales counters
China is a world leader in terms of consumer production, referred to as a ‘world factory’ of inexpensive goods, without branding, as well as famous products. In fact, China is also a major world consumer, having a 1.4bn population
China is a world leader in terms of consumer production, referred to as a ‘world factory’ of inexpensive goods, without branding, as well as famous products. In fact, China is also a major world consumer, having a 1.4bn population. There are so many niches yet to be mastered.
The issue was high on the agenda during a meeting with the Counsellor for Trade and Economic Affairs of the Chinese Embassy to Belarus, Liu Xuesong. “We annually import $3 trillion of products and all countries are eager to occupy a niche in our market,” he commented. Belarus’ food products are leading the way, with 15 Belarusian milk factories having received the right to export to China. Belarusian baby food enjoys the greatest demand, with Mr. Xuesong often asked to bring back samples from his visits. Belarusian textiles are also popular, including tights and socks, being of good quality, notes Mr. Xuesong, also mentioning Belarusian Luch watches. Our vodka is seeing increased demand in China, gaining a firm foothold. There are certainly some unexpected niches to be discovered in this huge country.
Despite our country’s friendly relations, it’s not easy to gain a place for Belarusian products on the shelves. Mr. Xuesong agrees that Belarus has good products for sale, and that he has no trouble in buying presents for friends and relatives, such as linen ware. “However,” he notes, “You need an advertising campaign to ensure active trade.”
Chinese authorities welcome Belarusian products on their market but there are no preferential conditions, as China is a WTO member and must apply the principle of competitive equal rights. In this situation, quality, promotion and service are vital, which tend to be Belarusian producers’ weakest points. If these can be improved, then huge export prospects should emerge.
Another interesting vector of bilateral co-operation is the import of Chinese products to Belarus. Our two states’ customs statistics show some discrepancy. According to the Chinese, exports to Belarus totalled $0.76bn last year, while our custom officers assert that $2.4bn of Chinese imports entered the country. Most Chinese products enter via Eurasian Economic Union members’ wholesale companies, so China registers delivery to Russia and Kazakhstan rather than to Belarus, where these products eventually go on sale.
Only a third of Chinese imports enter Belarus directly, with over 60 percent shipped through mediators. Accordingly, added value partially remains in the importing country. A shift to direct product supply (worth $1.7bn) would enable us to add revenue to our economy.
By Vladimir Volchkov
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