Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chinese Imports hurt Moroccan Shoe Repair shops

This article from Middle East Online is not about Ramadan, but about the fledgling shoe repair business in Morocco due to competition from Chinese imports.

‘Made in China’ sinks Morocco shoe repair shops

Shoe repair shops are struggling to survive increasing tide of cheap shoes made in China.

By Saad Guerraoui – CASABLANCA

Abdel Salam Jawhari, a 73-year-old owner of a shoe repair shop in Casablanca’s upmarket Hassan I Avenue, has just turned down a posh female customer despite going through difficult times because of her sarcasm.

He insists the future is bleak for this profession which he has been practising for 62 years, blaming it on Chinese products flooding the domestic shoe market.

The flood of Chinese products has increased since China's entry into the World Trade Organization in late 2001, a development which has had a negative outcome on Morocco’s textile and manufacturing industries.

Jawhari said clients run away when they “are told the price of repairing their shoes” that can go up to 80 Moroccan dirhams (10 US dollars).

“Why would you bother yourself repairing your shoes whereas you can buy brand new ones for less that their repair cost?” Asked Jawhari.

Jawhari stressed that raw materials and machinery “are all imported from Europe, particularly Germany for their good quality, which reflect the repair costs.”

Many shops across Morocco’s industrial capital sell beautifully-designed shoes for as little as Dh70 (7 US dollars), but the quality is quite poor.

Jawhari recalls this profession was dominated by foreigners and Jews until the 1960s when Moroccans started to take over.

He highlights the golden years when he used to make between Dh900 a day and employ 3 to 4 people. Today, he hardly makes Dh150 a day, which is barley enough to cover the shop’s increasing expenses and bills.

“Today, we repaired only three shoes and there are other days where it goes dead,” he sighed

He thanks God his married son, the only employee left in the shop, lives with him. Otherwise, he would have closed a long time ago like many other shoe repair shops which could not withstand the Chinese tide.

Jawhari proudly shows his scars from accidents, which did not stop him from carrying on his job despite not being covered by the social security.

“Only old customers keep coming in. The new generation is fussy and thinks I have got Moses baton to repair the unrepairable,” he said with laughter.

Dr. Saad Guerraoui , Senior Editor


  1. The Chinese imports have the advantage of being cheaper, and honestly, of a good quality lately. So yes, local producers are harmed and should be protected through tariffs.

  2. I think that free trade principles should be applied here, as in any other trade activity. After all, free trade was what helped China's market place become the 3rd most successful and powerful in the world.

  3. Chinese imports aren't just wholesale goods anymore. This country has developed a lot in other industries as well, like high-tech, software, technology, and not just industry and manufacturing. "Made in China" doesn't mean low quality standards anymore.

  4. Those businesses who source from China can offer as much as 60% savings over goods and services produced in Europe and America, and up to 20% savings over third-world suppliers.Therefore, importing from China is beneficial for both countries involved.