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Economy

Cheap Chinese Imports Invade Brazil’s Patron Saint Market

Chinese manufacturers have figured out a way to cash in on Brazilian Catholicism, flooding the market with inexpensive images of Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil’s patron saint. Local producers can’t compete, and want the government to intervene.

On sale: Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil's patron saint (D'Amico Rodrigo)
On sale: Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil's patron saint (D'Amico Rodrigo)

*NEWSBITES

It's not easy to be Catholic in China. But it is easy to make money from Catholicism. And for Chinese manufacturers keen to cash in on the religion, there's no better market than Brazil, whose ports are bursting with containers filled with Chinese-made images of Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil's patron saint.

Local producers, however, are now praying for help, saying there's no way they can compete with their Chinese counterparts, who are able to churn out the patron saint far more cheaply. Although they haven't yet filed an official complaint to the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, when they do, it will open a new chapter in the two countries' trade disputes.

According the Roberto Lerner Barth, president of the Commission for the Defense of Brazilian Industry, China has several strategies in place to deal with unfair competition claims. One is to create false certificates of origin. For example, before sending products to Brazil, they will send the shipment to India or Malaysia, and get a new certificate of origin. This is to avoid the anti-dumping surcharge that Brazil imposes on Chinese products.

Experts say that the government knows which products are most vulnerable to this type of manipulation, and are monitoring their importation. Whether Brazilian authorities turn their attention to Our Lady of Aparecida remains to be seen. Local producers of the favorite religious image are hoping for an intervention – divine or otherwise – before the Chinese products drive them out of business.

Read more from AméricaEconomía in Spanish

Photo -D'Amico Rodrigo

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

Keep reading...Show less

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