Anti-China sentiment looms over Ritchie Street

Caught in the crossfire: The shortage of made-in-China goods has pushed up the prices of many components, say traders in Ritchie Street.

Caught in the crossfire: The shortage of made-in-China goods has pushed up the prices of many components, say traders in Ritchie Street.   | Photo Credit: K_Pichumani

With the anti-China sentiment running high after the border face-off issue along with calls to boycott Chinese products, Chennai's electronics grey market hub, Ritchie Street, is feeling the pinch already.

Traders here, who have been depending on Chinese goods for decades, said that the anti-China sentiment is slowly seeping into southern States too. A trader said: “We had closed down businesses from June 19 and will be opening on Monday. Once the market is operational and consumers start coming, we will know the impact.”

“Anti-China sentiment is becoming very strong in northern markets and now it is slowly picking up in south too,” said R. Chandalia, secretary, Chennai Electronics and Infotech Traders Association, Ritchie Street. “Consumers are now ready to pay more and buy India made products,” he said. On the trade front, Mr. Chandalia said that there had been no impact and materials and consignments have been coming from China.

Mukesh Khubchandani, president of the All India Electronics’ Association (AIEA), Chennai, said that anti-China sentiments were brewing in the electronics hub across India but one needed to watch for another month to see what happens. “I visit China once in two months. Based on my experience, my suggestion to the government here is that create industrial towns where people can start manufacturing locally. At AIEA, we encourage our members to look for opportunities and ways to make products locally which are presently being procured from China. We are also taking up with the Government to help us in meeting these challenges. We should get funding at interest rates similar to China and land at cheaper prices. We will make all efforts to replace Chinese products,” Mr Khubchandani said.

Rise in prices

On the other hand, there is a shortage of Chinese products because of which prices have gone up. A trader on Narasingapuram Street said that his counterparts in Delhi mentioned about the anti-China sentiments. “This is temporary and won't last long. Even spare parts come from China and so after a point, consumers will move on,” he said.

Dharmendra Kumbhat, who runs Sunshine Tele Link, said customers were now demanding Indian products. Mr. Kumbhat, who has a tie-up with a Chinese manufacturer in Shenzhen for making mobile accessories, said that consignments continued to come and there had been no hassles. Nearly 30 to 40% of his consignments were from China, he said.

Sunil Pipada, who runs S.R. Electronics on Narasingapuram Street and supplies spare parts for inverters and stabilisers, said: “Most of my raw materials are sourced from China and there are no local manufacturers who make them. As of now, I have no issues on the supply front,” he said.

A section of traders said the issue would fizzle out as people were more worried about COVID-19. But if the government imposed a ban on Chinese goods, it would impact businesses in not just Ritchie Street but in several manufacturing firms who rely on traders here for spare parts and accessories.

Ritchie Street, the second largest market for electronics in India after Nehru Palace in New Delhi covers Narasingapuram Street, Wallers Street, Meeran Sahib Street, Mohammed Hussain Sahib Street and Guruappa Road employing close to 8,000 workers. There are over 1,500 shops in this electronics hub selling a range of products including TVs, laptops, home theatre systems, mobiles, LED panels and lights. It sells spare parts like capacitors, integrated circuits and cables, which are used by various manufacturing units.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 10:26:10 PM |

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