Chinese furniture imports a threat to local producers

President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects students' desks made at Dean Achesa's workshop in Umoja, Nairobi

A senior official at the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) who declined to be named said that the Chamber is very concerned about these developments since they are a direct threat not only to the local factory furniture manufacturers but also to the delicate Jua Kali industry in the country

By The Weekly Vision

Massive furniture imports from Chinese factories into Kenya is now worth hundreds of millions of shillings and the import volume continues to grow each year putting local producers at a great disadvantage.

The trend is posing a major threat to local furniture manufacturers right from the Jua Kali sheds and factories in all the 47 counties, these imports have not just infiltrated all corners of Nairobi, but all major towns in the country.

The Weekly Vision investigations established that most of the furniture imports into the country are by sea in containers through the Port of Mombasa since air cargo is more expensive though faster. It is from there that the furniture is trucked to up-country destinations to hit the local markets for sale.

These imports threaten the survival of the equally hundreds of millions of shillings invested in local furniture production over the years mostly for sale to the local markets and at the same time exacerbate the already highly volatile unemployment situation and development of the Jua Kali sector in the country.

A senior official at the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) who declined to be named said that the Chamber is very concerned about these developments since they are a direct threat not only to the local factory furniture manufacturers but also to the delicate Jua Kali industry, loss of investments and jobs across the country

Our investigations established that the Chinese imports are not only for domestic furniture like Sofa sets, dining sets, beds, coffee tables, sideboards, television stands, bookshelves…name it, they also include a wide range of office furniture like metallic or aluminium office waiting room seats popularly found in virtually all banking halls across the country.

A senior official at the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) who declined to be named said that the Chamber is very concerned about these developments since they are a direct threat not only to the local factory furniture manufacturers but also to the delicate Jua Kali industry, loss of investments and jobs across the country.

“We must not forget the fact that our Jua Kali sector involved in furniture production is still heavily reliant on traditional processing skills compared to the highly modern precision factories that produce the Chinese furniture that we are being made to consume at the expense of our producers – not to mention the development of the Jua Kali sector to reach those Chinese precision factory production levels,” he said.

Apart from that the Consumers Federation of Kenya raised (Cofek) raised concerns that since there is no legislation restricting the 47 county governments from buying some of the cheap furniture imports to the local Jua Kali producers they will easily gravitate to the Chinese imports.

A spot check in some of the showrooms showed that domestic furniture alone starting with Modern Recliner L Shaped Leather set selling at Kshs 208,000.00, Wood and Granito Coffee Table @Ksh 18,800.00 Available in Brown only. L shaped Modern Sofa. A079 is available in Brown only at Kshs 192,000.00 Carpet 200cm by 300cm at Kshs 16,500.00 Coffee Table at Ksh. 16,800.00, Pure Leather Sofa. 7-seater at Kshs. 484,000.00 Coffee Table with Granito top at Ksh 99,000.00 Carpet 200cm by 300cm at Kshs 16,500.00 and many more.

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