It probably comes as a surprise to Guyanese consumers that the issue of sub-standard Chinese goods was raised at a recent Guyana/China forum in Port of Spain and that the Chinese state agency responsible for ensuring the smooth functioning of Guyana/China trade and economic relations has agreed to investigate the matter.

Concerns over the quality of some Chinese imports into Guyana, including clothing and electrical items are nothing new and given the proliferation of Chinese merchants in Guyana one would wish to ensure that local consumers can make ‘Made In China’ purchases without having to worry as to whether these are likely to be worth the money that they spend.

It may well offend the Chinese to know that some of the goods manufactured in China have not exactly endeared themselves to Guyanese consumers, and with good reason. And while the evidence of  China’s outstanding success in trading with other countries, including countries in the west, attests to the fact that the Chinese are perfectly capable of producing high-quality goods, it is this that has led to the feeling in some quarters that cheap, sub-standard Chinese goods are not a universal occurrence but are in fact exported only to developing countries like Guyana. That too, is not a notion that we should be encouraged to accept.

While this newspaper understands that the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) has actually been in receipt of some complaints regarding Chinese goods that have not ‘held up’ for too long after their purchase dates, one is entirely uncertain as to how these matters are processed. This, of course, is not to say that the GNBS is either unmindful of its responsibilities or neglectful of its duties. The reality is, however, that given the literal deluge of economic aid that is currently coming Guyana’s and the Caribbean’s way from China, it is not inconceivable that the authorities may not be particularly mindful of making an official song and dance over a container of electric irons that work once and never again or garments that change both colour and shape after the first wash.

The Chinese, however, appear to be acutely aware of their greater responsibility in a changed global trading environment in which competitiveness is a function of quality, among other things. The other point to be made of course is that one would not wish to think that the authorities here would rather see Guyanese continue to endure inexpensive but sub-standard goods purely because no one wants to hurt Beijing’s feelings.

It is a good thing that the responsible Chinese state agency has agreed to investigate the complaints of the local businessmen. It would be even better if, in the future, we can purchase Chinese brands with the same sense of assurance that we do other brands.

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