Indian business owners seek help

JOHOR BARU: Local Indian businesses in Johor claim they are facing stiff competition from large scale expos held in the state, leading to losses.

The expos, typically held at shopping malls in Johor Baru, offer a wide range of items such as textile, jewellery, clothing, decorations, bags and shoes from countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

R. Seri Rages, 39, who runs a shop in Tampoi which sells jewellery and provides tailoring services said she had suffered more than 70% drop in sales since last year.

“The expo used to be held once a year at only one location but it is now being held four to five times a year at several locations in the state.

“It is killing our businesses as traders at the expos, mostly foreigners, sell their goods at much lower prices,” she said.

Seri Rages said the problem was made worse last year when an expo was held just before Deepavali, causing them to lose a lot of customers ahead of the festive season.

Another business owner N. Saras, 55, who has been operating at Jalan Trus for over seven years said it was not possible for local traders to reduce prices of their goods to match those at these expos as they had more expenses to cover.

“Rental for our shoplots range between RM10,000 to RM20,000 a month, we have to pay shipping and cargo fees to bring in goods from India, pay taxes as well as wages for our workers.

“On top of all this, when sourcing for items for our shops, we spend money flying to India or other countries and for accommodation.

“Considering all this, we price the items we sell accordingly,” she said.

She said some of the foreign traders operating stalls at the expos had their own suppliers from India and as such were able to sell their items at cheaper prices.

“Also, during the last few days of the expo, traders usually further reduce prices to clear their goods.

“We cannot blame the public for choosing to buy at cheaper prices but what are we to do.

“We have a business to run and meet expenses. We cannot afford to compete with these foreign traders,” she said, adding that some local businesses could not sustain and may be forced to close.

More than 100 local Indian business operators who are facing the same situation have handed over a memorandum to Johor unity, domestic trade and consumer affairs committee chairman Dr S. Ramakrishnan, seeking his assistance to urge the state and Federal governments to stop allowing such expos to be organised here.

Ramakrishnan said that he will bring the matter to the attention of relevant agencies and ministries to find a solution.

“Something has to be done as local businesses are suffering the consequences,” he said.

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