Zhang Yazhu is the Vice Chairman of China International Auto Products Expo (CIAPE). She led some companies to the recently held 7th Auto Parts Expo Africa which was hosted at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. In a chat with Frank Kintum and Cliffsimeon Akalonu, she talked about her experience in Nigeria and the Chinese auto industry
How many companies did you come with this year to the fair?
This year 2018, I came with 19 companies and this is my third time of coming to this event in Lagos Nigeria with Chinese auto parts companies.
Coming with 19 companies, is it not too small for the Show?
Yes I agree with you, like I was speaking with BKG the organizers of this show on how to improve the show because Chinese people and most Chinese Auto parts companies are very eager to come down to Nigeria for business participation because Nigeria is very populated country but the challenge is that there are no many visitors (buyers) here and the word of mouth cannot be enough or be the right idea for us in China. So when some of them come once, they wouldn’t want to come back and they prefer to go to other countries for exhibitions where there are more visitors and buyers and that was why I was explaining to BKG that we should do something from next year to improve buyers attendance. For example In 2016, I went to Pakistan with three companies, the second year I went with 58 Chinese auto companies and the third year I went with 81 Chinese auto companies so by next year, I am confident of going there with more than 100 companies and with this you can see that the buyers promotion is louder there. So, I call on you with a help from your media (Transport Day) to help promote and bring more buyers to the show.
How many companies did you came with in Nigeria previous years?
First year I came with 11, and the second year is 14
The companies you brought last years were they the ones you brought this year?
For example, exhibitors who have come long way to this place for four days exhibition and cannot sell up to ten parts, in turn they calculate with their expenses of coming down here and you can see its much more less of their expenses and with that they will tell their friends don’t go there you will not see buyers. But on my own part, I have suggested to BKG to have every day relationship with auto parts dealers in ASPAMDA not when the exhibition is close. By next year I will hold several match making meetings with ASPAMDA to improve their experience about Chinese products.
Apart from Nigeria in Africa, which other countries do you take your exhibitors to?
Personally I have done exhibitions for more than 20 years and I joined exhibition industry since 1997 and have gone to more than 50 countries for auto parts exhibitions. Few on the list is Pakistan, Turkey, Korea, Kenya, Peru, Ethiopia, Morocco, Ireland, Poland, Tanzania and others.
Outside low turnout, which other challenges do you have or encountered?
Different countries have different challenges like Iran, the USA is giving them sanctions because at the Iranian market, the Chinese products are very popular there so, when exhibitors go there regularly they are denied visa into the USA. For Pakistan, the challenges we face there is price because they are asking for below price and the Chinese are saying is below their cost. Like Peru, their market is very good and their exhibition is every good as well but the problem is distance because, you have to travel more than 20 hours. Like Korea, their market is very small and they prefer their own products but source little from the China. For Nigeria, the challenge is there is no buyer.
What do you have to say about our impression that the Chinese products are not durable compared with products from Europe?
I will say that the impression is very, very wrong. The reason is the importers from Nigeria, because when they come here to buy from us they would prefer to buy low quality products for excess profit making. Once they come here and you give them price for a quality product, they go for the cheap once so as to buy more and sell to his fellow Nigerians at a very high rate and make more profit than the manufacturers.
Don’t you think that the Chinese government need to help in this aspect by setting a standard?
The Chinese government and we the associations have standards but we are asking people to comply.
Another thing is that you are comparing China with the Europe, while you should be comparing China with Nigeria because in Europe, GDP per capita is more than USD20,000, so, most people there are living a very good life. But for countries like Nigeria and China, people are not looking for a better life but they are looking for survival. When you are at a survival level you don’t care much about ethics. So Nigeria and China both are developing countries.
Are you assuring us that the companies you bring to Nigeria for exhibitions are selling quality and genuine products?
Yes with guarantee, I tell you that the companies I bring to Nigeria exhibitions are of quality products direct from the factory. But the truth is that you will still have some trading companies that can sell and supply all products as well in the show.