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Across China: Chinese hair relaxer products make an impact on the African market

SHANGHAI, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Chinese companies have found Africa is a large market for hair relaxer products and are looking to invest in production on the continent, according to industry insiders at the ongoing 28th East China Fair held in Shanghai.

Anslem Chudi Afube, an agent from Nigeria who is visiting the fair, said the retail prices of Chinese hair relaxer products are 30 percent cheaper than western brands, but have the same reliable quality.

"Our African customers can now enjoy stylish hair and spend less money," he said after visiting the booth of the Huzhou Mino Daily Chemicals Company at the fair.

The African market for hair relaxer products used to be dominated by western brands. In recent years, products from the Chinese company based in east China's Zhejiang Province, have become popular in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other African countries.

"The Belt and Road Initiative has brought us closer to the African market," Xu Xiangnong, the company's general manager said.

Xu's firm had been focusing on designing and producing daily-use skin and hair care products targeted at developed markets. The company's hair dye products make up 20 percent of the market of the United States.

Huzhou Mino started to tap into the African market six years ago with its baby care products.

Xu visited Africa to conduct market research in 2015, and said he found it was an emerging market with a huge potential.

"African customers have different demands than Chinese customers, but all people, rich or poor, share a desire to have soft, smooth hair. We are developing specific products catering to the African market," said Xu.

Since 2015, his company has obtained several patents for research and development of hair relaxer products, which they began to make available in Africa in 2016.

In 2017, the company exported 1.75 million boxes of hair relaxer to Africa, the equivalent of 70 40-foot containers.

"The import tariff for hair relaxer products in African countries can be as high as 45 percent. If we can set up factories in Africa, we can not only lower the prices for local customers but also create jobs and increase their incomes," said Xu.

Under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, China will increase cooperation with African countries, which would help create a steady investment environment for Chinese companies there, he said.

The 28th East China Fair is the largest regional trade fair in China. Nearly 4,000 Chinese companies and more than 460 overseas companies are taking part in the four-day event being held in Shanghai. Over 5,700 booths, arranged under five categories from garments to modern lifestyle, cover an exhibition area of 123,600 square meters.

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