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.
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.
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Photo - D'Amico Rodrigo
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