11-13 May 2021
DARLING HARBOUR, ICC SYDNEY

How Chinese exporters are satisfying local needs

Feb 6, 2020 Trade & Business

Demand for imported building products, especially those made in China, has grown exponentially in recent years. We look at how imported products stand up against locally sourced products.

The historic China-Australia Free Trade Agreement has been a huge economic success for Australia. Australian businesses have taken advantage of the wide range of cheap imported Chinese goods and materials thanks to reduced Australian import tariffs.

In 2017 alone, Australia’s two-way trade with China was valued at $183 billion.

Chinese companies export a range of construction materials – everything from indoor products such as tiles and flooring, to outdoor products like steel frames and stone.

In recent years, the widespread availability of high-speed internet has made sourcing imports even easier. As a consequence, many Australian companies have established relationships with reputable overseas manufacturers, especially those from China.

The big difference: cost

While Australian construction products have a good reputation for quality, products imported from China are likely to be substantially more affordable. In some cases, they can be more than 30 per cent cheaper.

This can make a remarkable difference to a company’s bottom line – particularly on large projects, says construction industry marketing consultant Adam Stewart. His agency, Digital Bond Marketing, services Global Machinery Sales – an importer of high-quality Chinese products into the Australian marketplace.

“There is a large demand for the relatively affordable Chinese products that can be half the price,” says Stewart. This price difference is mainly attributed to the strength of the exporting country’s economy. China also has a large and inexpensive labour force.

Other benefits

Engaging contractors for imported materials often comes with an added benefit – the construction capacity and scalability of a much larger manufacturing industry than our own.

While it may be difficult at times to source enough of a particular locally made product, foreign companies often produce materials on a huge scale, meaning it’s comparatively easy for Australian construction companies to obtain the desired quantities they need.

For example, there are more than 3000 tile manufacturers in China, each producing more than 25,000 tiles per day, with more than enough capacity to service Australia’s relatively small demand.

The sheer variety of products available from importers also allows Australian construction companies to better service their clients by satisfying a range of design and material requests.

Quality, safety and NCBPs

The big question remains the quality of foreign products, as highlighted by a spate of defective high-rise building issues blamed on Non-Conforming Building Products (NCBPs). But are all imported products NCBPs? The answer is simply no.

As well as being competitively priced, building materials sourced from reputable overseas companies and with the right certification can be of comparable quality to locally made products.

“There are an equal number of good companies selling good quality materials as there are dodgy operators,” says Stewart. “The key is finding the good ones,” he says.

Due diligence for safety

Despite a host of regulatory changes, the onus for sourcing safe products still lies with construction companies.

The good news is it’s now easier to source high-quality products by referring to the National Construction Product Register (NCPR) – an online database of construction products with authenticated evidence of conformity.

The register’s administrator, NATSPEC, has partnered with the forthcoming ChinaBuild trade event to assist quality Chinese operators in registering the eligible products on the NCPR.

For more information or to register for ChinaBuild, visit https://chinabuild.com.au/

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