July 21, 2013

China vs Dubai: The battle for the Nigerian market

China vs Dubai: The battle for the Nigerian market

Entrance of the bustling China Town in Lagos.

By Vera Samuel Anyagafu

The importation of goods into Nigeria by traders who seem to be showing preference for variant lucrative business attractions that Dubai offers compared to what is  obtainable in China has continued to generate comments by Nigerians. In this report, Nigerian businessmen and women, who bared their minds, believe that business in Dubai, the Persian Gulf city, is more favorable.

Mrs. Kate Ibe (aka Madam K), who trades in Dubai gold ornaments, said, “ Doing business in Dubai is full of excitement  because of its proximity and the lack of visa-restriction rules that comes with it.

Unlike China, the business environment is very conducive and the infrastructure is reliable.”

Kate further stated, “A large number of Nigerians come to Dubai on weekly basis to engage in buying and selling because of the access to visa and decent profit margins that they make on sale of purchased products back home in Nigeria, and this is not achievable with products from China”.

Jonathan Ozoemena, a merchant, said he had to relocate from his manufacturing business at Idumota to Dubai due to the alleged invasion of substandard goods from China, in addition to Nigeria’s incessant interruption of power supply, deplorable road condition, and insecurity which has led to crime almost unavoidable.

According to Jonathan, who hails from Anambra State, “I travel to Dubai each time I exhaust my stock and I have been doing this for over three years now. It was a friend who introduced me into this line of business in Dubai, and I have not encountered any problem so far. Doing business here in Dubai is quite conducive. The only time you have a problem is when you try to go against their law.”

The market leader
Comparing both markets ( China and Dubai), Jonathan disclosed that although China is one market that is giving Dubai a quick run, majority of Nigeria business men feel better buying from the Dubai market.

“Majority of the goods that come into Nigeria from China may be sold at cheaper rates, but lack quality and durability, because some of our Nigerian businessmen in China specify the quality of the items they want manufactured for them and, most times, they place orders for low quality goods in order to attract low prices. This attitude, ironically, has attracted more patronage, and profit for them, which, if viewed in real sense, is dangerous.
This unmindful attitude of these traders also explains why Nigeria seaports consider most items that come from China as substandard.”

Entrance of the bustling China Town in Lagos.

Entrance of the bustling China Town in Lagos.

The merchant frowned at the operations of the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SAN), which, he said, “ Is a show of total neglect to the welfare of  fellow citizens, because, by demanding a token as penalties from importers, who brought in sub-standard products that are harmful, they have sabotaged the vision of the organisation, which is to ensure that no sub-standard products get to end users.”

Sunday Vanguard further gathered that Dubai enormous business attractions and non-visa restrictions on visitors, who have genuine businesses to transact, have enabled  a large number of Nigerians who specialize in trade and commerce to achieve better returns on variant products purchased.

These products which range from gold, textiles, spare parts, cosmetics, electronics, telecommunication gadgets and household items can be obtained at a bargain if the trader knows his/her way about the numerous souks (markets) in the city.

In accordance with the rush to Dubai, three major airlines now offer daily flights from Lagos and Abuja to Dubai and with what appears to be pocket friendly flight fares, Dubai is for many Nigeria traders synonymous to a successful business.

What opened Dubai was the objective of a free trade zone, established in 1979, which permitted foreign investors unrestricted import of labor and export capital.

Owing to this, Dubai is now one of the world’s major trade and business hubs, and, among African countries, Nigerians rank highest among countries that travel to Dubai to import trade goods.

Majority of Nigeria traders in Dubai agreed that, knowing where you source your products and getting the best bargains is very critical if one hopes to make reasonable profit margins back in Nigeria. Igbo traders based in Dubai have established direct links with big time suppliers who sell at very cheap rates to traders.

Speaking also to Sunday Vanguard on the grounds of anonymity, a young man, who trades in female outfits said, “ I am better off with clothes from Dubai, even though they are slightly higher in price than those from China; they have quality and durability,” adding, “In Dubai, you do not have this long stretch of agents who you have to settle at the end of every purchase made, which is the situation in China.

Personally, trading in Dubai has given me my business more and better millage, and I do not think I would want to compromise.”