Low-quality Chinese products prevalent in Sana’a markets, lure consumers with price
The electronic product sector in particular is riddled with the Chinese products, and the bulk of them are deemed inferior materials, according to Ibrahim Al-Syaghi, an electronics shop worker.
He estimates that 90 percent of the mobile phones in Yemen are manufactured in China, but a lot of people tend to buy them due to their inexpensive prices and multiple service offerings.
“However, the consumers of these phones complain that the Chinese phones are breakable,” he said.
Al-Syaghi further stated that people do not care much about the guarantee or the quality of the product - their concern is price.
Khalid Al-Badri, a taxi driver, expressed his frustrations toward his Chinese-produced phone battery and the charger. He said he has bought numerous chargers for his phone because shortly after purchasing them, they stop working.
“The Chinese phones are not good. I don’t know how these products are allowed to enter the Yemeni markets without censorship and examination,” Al-Bari said.
Fake brand products have also been a source of discussion amongst Yemenis because again, they find themselves unable to tell the difference between genuine and counterfeit goods.
Two years ago, a scandal broke out when it was exposed that jambiyas, the traditional steel weapon similar to a dagger, are often counterfeit.
Ali Al-Najar, an owner of a jambiya shop, said the entrance of the Chinese products to the Yemeni markets poses a threat to the traditional crafts he sells.
“The Yemeni jambiyas are known for their high quality,” Al-Najar said. “Some of which are priced at 1 million Yemeni riyal. However, years ago, a Yemeni merchant went to China and asked for jambiyas similar to the Yemeni ones. He got what he wanted. Then the Chinese jambiyas broke into the Yemeni markets, and people flocked to buy them because the prices are low. However, they figured out later that the product was not authentic. It was just a big shock.”
Counterfeiting has not been confined to traditional products. Many international brands are shams as well. This is especially true in regard to goods like washing machines, cooking appliances and construction materials.
Clothes manufactured in China have also swept Yemen’s markets.
Abdullah Naji, a worker in Al-Sa’ada clothes center in Shumaila, said the majority of clothes on the market are Chinese-made. However, there is no requirement to include the name of the country of origin on the label, according to Naji.
Many clothing store owners report they lie and say the products they sell are from countries like Syria or Korea.
Many shoppers in Sana’a, including Mohammed Al-Wadhi, think the price of the clothing is too good to be true. He said he is happy when he purchases it, yet is disappointed to find these clothes lose their colors after the first wash and begin to fray within a week.
Mohammed Jubran, an Economics professor at Sana’a University, said there are many reasons that have contributed to the spread of the Chinese products in local markets. This includes the low cost of the products and the lack of the government censorship.
He said China holds a double standard when exporting to different nations. Products sent to developing countries such as Yemen would never be exported to the U.S., Europe or Canada he said.
However, Jubran does not hold China responsible for the spread of the cheaply-made products in the country, but said the Yemeni government needs to regulate the imports.
Jubran’s solution is for the government to establish commercial oversight agencies that guarantee the quality of the products that enter the country and to hold merchants accountable should they smuggle counterfeit products into markets. These agencies could also increase taxes revenues with regulation, according to Jurban.