Colombian Clothes Producers Say Cheaper Products From China Killing Their Business, Demand Tariffs Imposed

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Colombia's Trade Minister Sergio Diaz Granado (R) and China's Minister of Commerce Chen Deming attend a news conference after a bilateral meeting in Bogota October 2, 2012.

Officials from Colombia's textile sector say Chinese products are flooding the domestic market, and are demanding protectionist measures for jobs and businesses against what they see as unfair competition.

A letter that claims the "Chinese trap" is running Colombian and Brazilian producers out of business is circulating through the business community and was obtained by El Heraldo newspaper.

"Some acquaintances returned from China impressed," the paper reports the letter as saying. "A product of which Brazil produces a million units, in China -- in one single factory -- they produce 40 million."

The South American business community sees the quality of China's products as very similar to their own, but complains that the speed of distribution is a threat, especially when Chinese producers offer their items at a fraction of the cost that they can.

"The state must protect us," a local shoemaker told the paper. The footwear producer said he has had to cut his production to 70 percent to avoid going bankrupt.

When they meet with Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro and Trade Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados on Thursday, textile industry representatives will demand an increase in import tariffs on textile products and improved checks at ports to protect the domestic industry.

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