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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)


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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food / travel

Legalizing Moonshine, A Winning Political Stand In Poland

Moonshine, typically known as “bimber” in Poland, may soon be legalized by the incoming government. There is a mix of tradition, politics and economics that makes homemade booze a popular issue to campaign on.

Photo of an empty vodka bottle on the ground in Poland

Bottle of vodka laying on the ground in Poland

Leszek Kostrzewski

WARSAWIt's a question of freedom — and quality. Poland's incoming coalition government is busy negotiating a platform for the coming years. Though there is much that still divides the Left, the liberal-centrist Civic Koalition, and the centrist Third Way partners, there is one area where Poland’s new ruling coalition is nearly unanimous: moonshine.

The slogan for the legalization of moonshine (known in Poland as "bimber") was initially presented by Michał Kołodziejczak, the leader of Agrounia, a left-wing socialist political movement in Poland that has qualified to be part of the incoming Parliament.

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”Formerly so-called moonshine was an important element of our cultural landscape, associated with mystery, breaking norms, and freedom from the state," Kołodziejczak said. "It was a reason to be proud, just like the liqueurs that Poles were famous for in the past.”

The president of Agrounia considered the right to make moonshine as a symbol of "subjectivity" that farmers could enjoy, and admitted with regret that in recent years it had been taken away from citizens. “It's also about a certain kind of freedom, to do whatever you want on your farm," Kołodziejczak adds. "This is subjectivity for the farmer. Therefore, I am in favor of providing farmers with the freedom to consume this alcohol for their own use.”

A similar viewpoint was aired by another Parliament member. “We will stop pretending that Polish farmers do not produce moonshine for their own use, such as for weddings,” the representative said, pointing out the benefits of controlling the quality. “Just like they produce slivovitz, which Poland is famous for. It's high time they did it legally.”

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