Counterfeit Chinese goods have always done roaring business in India — be it electronic gadgets or excellent imitations of just about every designer label there is. But with the Nathu La Pass reopening, flow of these goods into the country will be on a bigger scale. And they’ll get even cheaper.
“At present, we receive our supply of electronic goods, garments, shoes and stationery via the Indo-Nepal border, through Raxaul and Gorakhpur. Other products like watches, pirated VCDs and DVDs, MP3 players and other electronic goods come through Siliguri and North 24-Parganas, via the Indo-Bangladesh border,” says Khan, a Chandni market-based trader.
Khan's counterparts say the opening of the pass will translate into a decrease in prices of electronic goods, since these would be more easily available. “If we manage to get in touch with Chinese suppliers at Nathu La, we would be able to provide city dealers with Chinese products at an even cheaper rate. And it is ultimately the customers who benefit,” says Prakash Jaiswal, another city-based supplier of Chinese goods.
Apart from electronic goods, Jaiswal predicts a steady flow of jerseys, sneakers, stationary, fans, bicycles and toys. “Even Chinese-made fake Duracell and Eveready dry cell batteries, which cost around Rs 2 per piece, will be available on city footpaths at an even cheaper price,” he adds.
But traders say cheaper goods may not necessarily amount to higher profit margins. “A better supply network will decrease prices but it won't necessarily have the same effect on profit margins. Even if we sell a product at 30 to 40 per cent discount, we will be able to make a profit of only Rs 30 to Rs 50 on each piece,” Jaiswal says.
Kidderpore’s Five Star Market and Fancy Market are the other havens for Chinese-made products. Here, Chinese VCD and DVD players sell for approximately Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,750 respectively. “Once the Nathu La trade route is operational, these players will be cheaper by almost 30 per cent. People will be able to buy digital cameras for below Rs 12,000 and digital handycams — which cost around Rs 35,000 in showrooms — for about Rs 21,000,” a shop owner in Fancy Market says.