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And now Chinese tiles

A 25-member delegation of builders from India, including a builder from Kerala, visited China recently to learn first-hand what the neighbour has on offer in the construction industry.



AT THE EXHIBITION: The show turned was an eye-opener for the builders from the State.

CHINESE SILK, Chinese toys, Chinese gadgets and now Chinese tiles. A delegation of builders, which visited China for an exhibition of the building materials are thoroughly impressed about the way the Chinese construction industry works.

It is a marvel how the Chinese have made a name for themselves in the manufacturing field. Be it textile or be it tiles or sanitary ware. With huge production capacities and high productivity, Chinese goods are flooding the international market.

However, one has to be careful not to get cheated, said K. Lava, former president of Kerala Builders' Forum, who was part of the 25-member delegation of Builders Association of India, which spent about 10 days in China, visiting an exhibition of building materials in Guangzhow and getting a taste of how things work in other cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.

The exhibition

There were about 1,000 stalls, which showcased materials for the construction industry. The exhibition was indeed a venue to see many new materials, said Mr.

The sheer variety and range of materials available in the market was stunning. Another commendable fact about the Chinese was their aggressive marketing style, he said.

There were new varieties in almost every material and new trends and shapes available in many fancy sanitary ware or related items. The washbasins made of glass are the fashion these days, said Mr. Lava. They had visitors from most of the European nations and the other parts of Western world.

Showcasing their best, the Chinese were more than willing to deliver in bulk. Producing huge numbers is not at all a problem in China, said Mr. Lava. "Their productivity seems to be one of their best assets."

New varieties in materials such as tiles, sanitary ware, aluminium, glass and other hardware such as doorknobs, curtain holders and innumerable other items used in the industry were put up for the show. The builders found that importing materials after paying customs duty would turn out to be cheaper for procuring many items than buying from the domestic market.

Thinking big

Most of the builders there think big and most of the manufacturers make things for the world market. The high-rise buildings in Chinese cities are compact.

Since manufacturing in bulk is not a problem in China, they simply flood the market with their products. It is here that the buyer has to be careful about not getting cheated, Mr. Lava cautioned. The Chinese make products in wide ranges of quality with an equally wide range in costs. "I do not know much about the labour laws there but the Government does not interfere if a person wants to work for 12 hours," he added.

Shanghai and Beijing are comparable to New York, Mr. Lava said. Everything is built with an eye on the future. For Mr. Lava, the trip to China to see new building materials indeed an eye-opener.

SHYAMA RAJAGOPAL

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