Smuggled toxic Chinese jewelry rampant in Vietnam

By Chi Nhan, Thanh Nien News

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Some Chinese-made jewelry products on sale in Vietnam
Chinese-made jewelry recently found contaminated with toxic chemicals is being mostly smuggled directly from China to Vietnam, a Vietnamese jewelry magnate told Thanh Nien.
T. has been involved in the Chinese jewelry trade for five years. He hired a house in China’s Guangzhou to stay each time he traveled from Ho Chi Minh City to Guangzhou to buy cheap jewelry from local producers.
He then signed contracts with Chinese traders who bring the goods to Vietnam.
“I don’t know how they brought the goods to Vietnam, but I usually received the goods a week later,” he said.
T. said he usually bought 300-400 kilograms of Chinese jewelry worth around VND500 million (US$23,7000) on each trip.
He then sold the goods to traders at wholesale markets in HCMC. With the money he earned, he made the next trip to China for another batch of jewelry.
He said he made a profit equal to 10-15 percent of the value of the goods each trip.
T said he was aware that he could import Chinese jewelry legally from China to Vietnam. However, he was afraid that his products would be confiscated by authorities -- who would also fine him -- if they were found contaminated with toxic chemicals, as cheap products from China often are. 
The domestic demand for polished and plated jewelry and accessories is big, thus smuggled Chinese products are rampant on the Vietnamese market, he said.
More than 90 percent of jewelry and accessories sold in Vietnam are made in China, according to T.
Vietnamese products cannot compete with Chinese products in terms of price and styles, he said.
A product is usually sold to traders at wholesale markets for VND5,000-10,000 (23-47 U.S. cents) on average.
The traders then sell the product to shops, traders in small markets and street vendors for VND10,000-30,000.
When the product reaches the hand of the final consumer, its price is usually five to 10 times higher, or even more.
The lucrative business has attracted many Vietnamese traders, who have gradually formed a Chinese jewelry smuggling ring in Vietnam.
Although polished and plated jewelry products are usually tainted with lead, cadmium and other heavy metals to some extent, some developed countries still import the products from China as they set safety standards for the products to protect their customers.
But in Vietnam, nearly all the products are smuggled, so the risks are much higher.
According to T, Vietnamese authorities do inspect and revoke toxic products sometimes, and his business gets affected.
But after a while, his business resumes.
Recently, T. opened another retail shop in District 5 and advertised his products on Facebook.

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