“We are aware of the problem of substandard items exported to Africa," says Yang Peipei.
BEIJING - China is the world's largest manufacturing nation and its cities are littered with some of the world's biggest brands in electronics, fashion or automobiles.
From garments to domestic appliances, goods sold on the streets in China are of high quality. But somehow, some products that slip into many African markets tend to contrast that picture.
Officials from the Chinese government announced new plans on Tuesday to tighten controls intended to curb the practice but asked African states to follow suit.
Yang Peipei, the councillor at China's ministry of commerce, told journalists in China's capital, Beijing on Tuesday that the practice has is driven by traders from Africa.
"We are aware of the problem of substandard items exported to Africa. But this is largely because most African countries are price-sensitive and force manufacturers to cut costs in order to lower prices," Peipei said during a press briefing on China-Africa economic cooperation and investment.
How they end up on markets
To cash in on the lucrative business, traders approach manufacturers in China and ask for goods of lower quality at lower prices.
Some of the items cost a fraction of the original brands. In most cases, however, buyers are unable to differentiate between genuine products and knock-offs.
Peipei explained that all exports from China are subject to spot-checks, although some knock-offs sometimes slip through, and that recipient countries need to tighten controls to stem the vice.
She said an inter-ministerial team had developed an action plan that will put an end to the lucrative practice, including stepping up spot checks for all exports leaving China.
"In the next three years, China will pay much more attention to exports and increase spot checks. But African countries, too, need to step up vigilance to stop entry of such goods," Peipei advised.
She said China would not allow the illegal practice to taint her country's image and trade relations with Africa.
For the last seven years, China has remained Africa's largest trading partner, with trade volumes in excess of $179b by the end of 2015.
According to Peipei, China will keep its promise of supporting Africa's development projects and boosting bilateral ties in spite of facing slower but stable growth at home.
China has offered $60b to support the continent's development projects over the next three years, of which $35b will be in form preferential loans, export credits, and concessional loans, while $5b will go to the China-Africa Development Fund, a private equity and venture capital investment arm of the China Development Bank.
Another $5b will cater for a Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs and $10 will form the initial capital for the China-Africa production capacity cooperation fund.
Areas of cooperation between China and Africa are in core areas of development, including: infrastructure, health, trade, poverty reduction, agriculture, environment and culture.