Is ‘Made in China’ still an indicator of cheap goods?

Nov 01, 2010 | 06:08 AM | Shi Lili

SHANGHAI, China For a long time, goods "Made in China" tended to be cheap. Chinese-made sunglasses, for example, can be bought just about anywhere in the world for less than $10 apiece. But things have been changing since the financial crisis in 2008, and especially since the beginning of this year.

Low labor costs encouraged the inflow of labor-intensive scrap metals, such as electric motors, copper cable and zorba, from the United States. But most Chinese importers of so-called 7th-grade material—the low-grade metal scrap that is separated or dismantled by hand—have begun to complain that they are suffering not only from the volatility of the market but also by rising labor costs.

"Most (workers) would be happy to get 2,000 yuan (about $300) each month before," said a scrap importer in Tianjin Jinghai Ziya Recycling Industrial Park in northeast China. "But now no one will work for you so cheap for such hard and dirty work. You have to pay at least 3,000 yuan ($450) a month. This is a big problem for us under such tough market conditions."....

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