“Substandard Chinese goods have the fault of Vietnamese traders”

VietNamNet Bridge – Mr. Wei Zi Shen, Trade Consul of the Chinese Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City explains about poor quality works of Chinese contractors and Chinese substandard goods in Vietnam.

How to “play” with China for mutual benefit?

Vietnamese businesses must know how to “play” with China

Identifying China as trade partner

Finding a sustainable path for Vietnam-China trade

vietnam-china, trade relation, chinese trader, border trade

Mr. Wei Zi Shen, Trade Consul of the Chinese Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City.

VietNamNet’s series "Finding sustainable path for Vietnam-China trade" has received the attention of many readers and local businesses. To broaden public opinion and contribute to promoting Vietnam’s internal strength in trade relations with China, VietNamNet talked with Mr. Wei Zi Shen, Trade Consul of the Chinese Consulate General to clarify the issues in our round-table talks with Vietnamese experts.

Hello Mr. Wei Zi Shen, thank you for accepting our invitation to attend this meeting today. Hopefully we will have an open, straightforward and constructive discussion in order to build and improve the quality of Vietnam-China trade. Firstly, could you tell us about the position of Vietnam in China’s trade?

In recent years, economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and China has rapidly developed and has entered a new development stage. It is comprehensive, multi-disciplinary and in-depth development. China is the largest trading partner of Vietnam in nine consecutive years.

According to statistics from the Chinese customs agency, in 2012 two-way trade of two countries reached $50.4 billion, an increase of 25.4 percent over the same period in 2011. In particular, China’s export turnover from Vietnam was $34.2 billion, up 17.6 percent over the same period of 2011 and import turnover with Vietnam was $16.2 billion, an increase of 46 percent. The increase in Vietnam's exports to China was much higher than that of China to Vietnam.

China is now the largest export market of many commodities of Vietnam such as rice, cassava, natural rubber, vegetables and fruits. Large volumes of cashew nuts and seafood are also exported to China.

However, despite achieving impressive numbers like that -- but to be honest, the two-way trade between Vietnam and China is not commensurate with the potential of the two countries. Vietnam is currently the 5th largest trading partner of China among ASEAN countries.

How do you assess the Vietnamese market? What are the strong and the weak points?

Vietnam has implemented the open-door and renovation policies for more than 20 years and has gained great achievements. Most notable is the agricultural sector, from a rice importer, Vietnam has become the 2nd largest rice exporter in the world. Vietnam also leads the world for other products such as coffee, cashew nuts, pepper, natural rubber....

Vietnam is gradually becoming the world's manufacturing facilities in a number of sectors such as textiles, shoes, etc...

In addition to the land resources, Vietnam has a very clear strength: abundant labor resources, which is very young and relatively cheap compared to China and some countries in the region. The Vietnamese are smart, quick learners, good education and hard working. With a large and young population, the power consumption is also relatively large. In general, Vietnam is a country full of life, full of potential for economic development and a market that cannot miss for enterprises of countries around the world, including China.

However, it should be said straight that Vietnam also has some shortcomings which has restricted faster trade and economic development. Especially some of the policies and regulations lack transparency. The capacity of some state officers is very weak. The phenomenon of corruption is still common. Vietnam has abundant labor resources but it lacks skilled labor. Employees who change job very often is a also a significant restriction. Transportation infrastructure is both limited and weak...

Can you tell us the trade-economic policy of the Chinese government with Vietnam?

China and Vietnam are friendly neighbors with a long tradition. The Chinese government attaches great importance to developing relations of economic and trade cooperation with Vietnam. China has and will continue to create the most favorable conditions for enterprises and products of Vietnam to reach and penetrate into the Chinese market. China has always fulfilled the agreements and common understanding reached between the two governments on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, mutual development, promoting comprehensive cooperation.

On the other hand, the Chinese government will continue to support large, prestigious enterprises, which have the financial capacity, of China to invest in Vietnam to contribute to the industry - modernization career of Vietnam. Moreover, the Chinese Government will continue to consider granting for the Vietnamese government preferential loans for the construction of infrastructure projects such as transport and power plants...

How can you explain some "not good" signs that have appeared recently? Firstly, many large projects of Chinese investors bring backward technology into Vietnam and project implementation is very slow, adversely affecting the effectiveness of projects?

It is true that there are some Chinese products of low quality and the Chinese government has always aggressively combated counterfeiting and substandard goods and tried its best to restrict poor quality and counterfeits sold on the market.

The fact is that the vast majority of Chinese goods are of good quality, otherwise Chinese goods cannot be sold around the world and China cannot become the world's largest exporter.

In the Vietnamese market, some poor quality products produced by China have appeared but I think we should not dump all the responsibility on Chinese enterprises. The businesses and importers of Vietnam have to bear the responsibility too because Chinese producers and exporters provide goods at the request of Vietnamese customers. China and Vietnam have a saying "you get what you pay for." You cannot buy a car with money just enough to buy a bicycle!

Regarding to construction projects implemented by Chinese contractors which are implemented behind schedule, with poor quality and obsolete technology etc. ... objectively, there really exist the phenomena mentioned above. But this is not all but only a small percentage of it.

The reason I say this is because Chinese enterprises have become a major force in the field of contracting Vietnamese works in the fields of transport, electricity and infrastructure. Many major projects have been completed and put into operation, achieving very good performance, playing a key role in the building of the country of Vietnam and they are highly appreciated by the Government of Vietnam and investors.   

Unfortunately, such good information has been published on newspapers much and Vietnamese people have not accessed to it. Most of them only know the bad news from newspapers.

Try asking if Chinese enterprises are too bad as the information on daily newspapers, how they can stand on the Vietnamese market?

Moreover, as far as I know, no “problematic” project is entirely due to Chinese enterprises. To complete the projects, many Chinese enterprises have to offer a higher price than they need to be. For example, site clearance work, order and safety in the construction site, etc... In a large project implemented by China, the day after the opening ceremony, a lot of materials were stolen. Many similar incidents have occurred. We have repeatedly expressed concern about it but many cases are still unsolved.

Duy Chien

To be continued…

vietnam-china, trade relation, chinese trader, border trade