Pakistani leather business gets popular in China

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BEIJING: Abdul Aleem Baig from Pakistan gave himself the Chinese name Yang Guang (Sunshine), which describes his mood when he runs his leather jacket business in China.

On Sunday morning, his booth at the Shanxi Cultural Industries Fair in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan was crowded with buyers trying on clothes or bargaining with him.

Abdul, 28, first came to China five years ago, following his older brother who was doing well in the business. So far, he has been to similar fairs in more than 40 cities and spends 20 days a month in the country.

He is among many foreign merchants seeking their fortune in China through expos, which are more flexible and cheaper than opening stores. Baig sets a shinning example earning good name for his country through his conduct and quality business, said Wang Sun, an organizer of the expo.

According to a report issued by the Ministry of Commerce in June, the scale of Chinese expos remains the largest in 2016, with more than 5,500 fairs staged that year.

“Leather jackets from Pakistan are world-renowned. Muslims eat lots of lamb, so we have lots of sheepskin, and many Chinese makers came to Pakistan for that,” Abdul said.

He said a long leather jacket made in Pakistan at his booth would be sold for 2,500 yuan ($376) while a Chinese-made counterpart of the same quality would be priced at 8,000 to 10,000 yuan.

In China, Abdul makes twice as much compared with in his hometown. “In Pakistan the competition is cut-throat, since leather jackets are everywhere,” he said.

Jay Kay from Myanmar made 500,000 yuan a year from his jade business in China. He came to China seven years ago and attends more than 30 expos across the country each year.

“Selling jade is not hard in China. It has so many people who love jade,” the 28-year-old said in fluent Chinese, adding that he stays in China for 10 months a year.

Pema Lama took part in 15 fairs during the past two years in China. Trading Buddhist items, such as Thangka painting, he earns 150,000 yuan a year, almost the same with his income in Nepal.

However, his choice to go to China was not just about money.

“I wanted to have my own business, and I did it. I could only work for others in Nepal,” he said. “I wish I had come here earlier.”

The 45-year-old has also been to India and Italy.

“But the business in China is the best. I don’t know why,” he said.

David from Mali, who sells tambourines at the Taiyuan expo, said he did exceptionally brisk business at biennial expos in the cities of Kunming and Lanzhou, since “people had waited a long time and desire foreign goods.”

“China is very open and friendly; expos are a good example,” he said.