New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: China to Block Sub-Standard Goods

Ugandans who have been duped into purchasing substandard goods from China no longer have a a reason to worry.

The Asian country is stepping up a campaign against exportation of low quality goods to Uganda and other African states.

Last week, Chinese officials told a group of journalists from Uganda and Tanzania at a meeting in Beijing, that their government had embarked on punishing manufactures who export sub-standard goods.

"We have heard several complaints from Uganda and other African countries about the poor quality of goods from China and this will soon end," said Cao Jiachang, the deputy director of African Affairs in the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

He added that the Chinese government had threatened to close factories involved in manufacturing such goods.

"We shall also destroy such goods if we land on them and fine the culprits. We want China to remain a global workshop that manufactures high quality goods," he said.

Ambassador Julius Onen, the permanent secretary of the trade ministry, said he was aware of the move. He revealed that the ministry had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese government to partner in the fight against the inferior goods.

He added that Uganda National Bureau of Standards was helping to fulfill the government's side of the agreement.

The move comes at a time when many Ugandans have been duped into buying fake goods from China and other foreign countries.

According to the UNBS, there are lots of substandard goods on the local market. UNBS recently listed about 25 categories of such products.

The products include food, raw materials and food additives, edible salt, iron sheets, cement, steel iron bars, electric cables and accessories, telecommunication products, and accessories.

However, China also blames the outflow of the sub-standard goods on smugglers and business men from Africa who specifically ask manufacturers to make cheap products.

"Some African traders set prices for some manufacturers in China who are willing to sell their goods to them," Jiachang said. He said they had asked their enterprises to shoulder their responsibilities.

The Chinese officials also asked African governments to come up with tougher laws to deal with inferior goods.

However, some businessmen in Kampala believe that as long as the policy in China remains 'cut your coat according to your cloth', fake goods will keep flowing to Uganda because the laws in the country may not help much.

Onen said the ministry presented a paper to Cabinet expressing the need to reestablish the pre verification requirement of goods being imported but this, was abolished about a year ago.

However, according to Dr. Ben Manyindo, the UNBS executive director, the bureau is still disabled by lack of resources and staff, to accomplish its duties. He told Saturday Vision that the bureau currently has about 100 vacancies and lacks vehicles to monitor goods.

China believes African countries can achieve a lot from the diplomatic ties they have to spur growth of their economies. But the Chinese insist that Africa can only benefit if there is balanced trade and equal treatment in the other areas.

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