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The 'cemetery goods' at Chau Long market

Written By vibykhmer on Monday, July 13, 2009 | 11:22 PM

The 'cemetery goods' at Chau Long market

The ‘cemetery goods’ trading began in the 1990’s. At first, the goods were mainly clothes, including relatively new products, and were widely popular. Later on, cemetery goods came to include electronics, consumer electric products, children’s toys and many other consumer goods. The products are gathered from many countries, including the US, South Korea, Japan, Canada and Hong Kong, and carried to Singapore.

In Singapore, they are classified and packaged and then are exported to Phnom Penh or Rong Kloea flea market in Thailand. B.K.A, a big trader of ‘cemetery goods,’ said that nearly ten tons of goods reach Vietnam every day, a level even higher than the volume of Vietnam’s new garment exports.

An Giang Customs Agency said that since the beginning of 2008, the agency has seized 17,000 kilogrammes of used clothes and 4,000 metres of fabric.
VietNamNet Bridge – A huge volume of used goods from the ‘rich countries’ seeps into Vietnam across its border with Cambodia. The trade in seconds, irregulars and second-hand clothing, fabrics and electronic gear, unsanctioned but clearly tolerated, has flourished since the early days of ‘doi moi.’

In Chau Doc, a city in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang province, Chau Long Market has become well known as an entrepot for used goods ‘smuggled’ into Vietnam from nearby Cambodia. The people of the Delta call them ‘cemetery goods.’ According to Lam Van Tuoi, deputy manager of the market, some 275 households now trade in ‘cemetery goods’, including clothes, handbags, footwear and fabric.

The general depot of ‘cemetery goods’

Every morning at Chau Long, big trucks arrive to deliver goods. Bales of goods, one after the other, are unloaded from the trucks and carried to every household before they are delivered to customers.

Every bale of used clothes weighs 100 kilogrammes and sells from three million to over five milliion dong. Customers here are mainly wholesalers who carry the used goods back to their home provinces.

Another market, next to the Tinh Bien border crossing, specializes in foreign made fabric. At Tinh Bien, there are some 300 kiosks; many sell ‘irregular’ fabric or liquidated stocks of imported fabric at very low prices. Some fabric sells for only 3,000-5,000 dong per metre, so cheap that it is called ‘cemetery fabric’.

Like the used clothes, the fabric is sold in bales, each containing 50-120 meters of cloth.

“People purchase the fabric to make clothes or door curtains to sell at markets,” said T, a vendor at the Tinh Bien Market. Customers who purchase goods in big volumes need only provide their addresses and put money down; their goods will be delivered to their doors.

Imported footwear, wallets, hats, ties and children’s toys are also on offer. There are some ten traders of these kinds of products in Chau Doc town. The traders said they travel to Rong Kloea flea market in Thailand to collect goods to resell in Vietnam.

The route of the ‘cemetary goods’

At Tamau Market in Takeo, Cambodia, boats arrive from Phnom Penh laden with second-hand products, irregulars and overstocks: electronic goods, consumer electric products, bicycles and consumer products.

At Tamau market is the transit place, Vietnamese traders collect the goods they have purchased in Phnom Penh, Kompong Som port (Cambodia) and Rong Kloea Market. From there, the gods are carried across the border line to depots in Chau Doc town. From the depots, goods pour out every day to Chau Long Market and other markets in neighboring Delta provinces.

Tamau is but one of many cross-border transit places. There is a depot in Prekchray (Cambodia’s Kandal province). This is a huge, metal-roofed house containing many tens of tons of old fabric and clothes. Prices there are cheaper by 500,000 dong per bale, so a lot of Vietnamese traders come to Prekchray.

The ‘cemetery goods’ are also carried on boats from Phnom Penh through Bac Dai border crossing, and then carried along the track to Dong Thap in Long An province, enroute to HCM City, where the goods are re-sold in Ba Chieu, Tan Binh and An Dong Markets.

Wastes, too, are being brought to Vietnam

‘Cemetery goods’ are selling well in Vietnam because many Vietnamese consumers are happy to buy dirt cheap products.

Traders said that the quality of the illegal imports has deteriorated. Previously, every 100 kilos of shirts (400 shirts on average) had 170 first-class shirts, but now there are only 100. (‘First-class’ products mean the ones which still look new and have acceptable quality). It’s the same for jeans. Only 20 pairs of jeans are found ‘relatively good’ in every 50 kilos of the products, according to Tuan, who has been trading goods from Phnom Penh.

The threat embodied in these imports, says an environment official in An Giang province, is that Vietnam is becoming the place which consumes the refused products of the rest of the world’s countries.

Cross-border traders say that nowadays liquidated fabric from China’s textile factories have been carried to Cambodia to be re-exported to Vietnam.

Tuoi tre newspaper has reported that this kind of fabric has been purchased by private garment workshops which make low cost clothes, blankets, pillow cases and window curtains for sale in rural areas. Besides, the fabric is also used to make uniforms for workers and as lining for other products like handbags and seat cushions.

To ‘renew’ overly old products, the fabric is reportedly treated with chemical substances which are harmful to human health. Besides, used products may bear the germs of their original users.
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