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Imports fixation   2008-09-10 - Tuoi Tre

Customers peruse a variety of plastic products at a Co.opMart supermarket in Ho Chi Minh City.  
Cheap prices, beautiful designs and high quality have helped foreign products win consumers’ hearts over locally-produced goods.



Hachihachi, a mini-supermarket in Ho Chi Minh City, has attracted many local customers who want to buy household products imported from Japan.

Many products at the supermarket are produced in Japan – with a sprinkling of Polish and Chinese goods – which are all popular with consumers over there, said Tran Binh, head of the sales department of Viet Ha Chi Company that owns Hachihachi.

Vietnamese consumers tend to buy products that are in high favor with Japanese counterparts, Binh said.

Hachihachi hosts about 160 customers every day, some of whom drop hundreds of thousands of dong on their purchases.

A first-time customer said she was won over by the market’s plastic product offerings because they were cheap, convenient, and most importantly made in Japan.

Plastic products made in other countries also grab a large share of the domestic market.

Ngo Van Hai, deputy sales manager of the Citimart supermarket chain, estimates that the proportion of imported Chinese, Thai and Malaysian plastic products has increased by 10 percent to currently hover at 30 percent.

Foreign plastic products are beautiful and cheap, and their prices

have increased by only 10-20 percent this year, instead of the 50-60 percent hikes associated with domestic products, Hai said.

Imports are also taking up a greater slice of the electronics market.

Products from Italy, Turkey and Spain have been introduced in supermarkets nationwide, encroaching upon the traditional territory of goods from Japan or South Korea.

Blacker electronics brand, for example, has imported 33,000 of its blenders to Vietnam in the first eight months of the year, while the figure was only 25,000 last year.

Vietnamese producers are also falling behind foreign competitors in the garment market.

A director of a garment factory in HCMC, who wished to remain anonymous, said the country’s high-end fashion segment is dominated by products from Europe, Hong Kong and South Korea.

Meanwhile, lower-priced Chinese products are enticing the market segment of middle and low income individuals, he said, adding that his company has had to establish a special division to buy imports for sales.

Many supermarkets across the country estimate that domestic garments only account for 30-40 percent of their retail clothing supplies.

Fashion shopping centers with their own brand names now prefer to sell Chinese products instead of producing their own.

M., a businessman who imports materials and clothing from China to Vietnam, said most well-known Vietnamese fashion stores are buying cheap Chinese products to resell.

It costs at least 20 percent less for Vietnamese garment businesses to buy from China than to produce the products themselves, he said.

Pham Chi Lan, an economics expert, said Chinese products are popular in the domestic market due to their competitive quality and much lower import duties when compared to products from other WTO members.

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