Beijing, Asharq Al-Awsat— Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah hailed the cooperation agreement signed between Riyadh and Beijing on the sidelines of Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s state visit to China, saying the agreement will help to reduce the flow of counterfeit goods.
The Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry signed a cooperation agreement with the Chinese Public Department for Quality Control, Tests and Quarantine on Friday. The agreement calls for Saudi Arabia and China to monitor and safeguard joint trade, penalizing traders who seek to import or export counterfeit goods.
In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Commerce Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah confirmed that there had been lengthy deliberations before the agreement reached its current form, noting that the two sides had exchanged expertise on commercial matters.
The agreement aims to block the flow of counterfeit goods into the Kingdom’s market by adopting several measures, including the creation of a joint blacklist of manufacturers and traders who are found to be dealing in counterfeit goods.
“The agreement was signed with the Chinese side following lengthy discussions. What is more important is the implementation [of the agreement], as there will be meetings every three months . . . to ensure the agreement is properly implemented,” he added.
The agreement includes penalties for any party found guilty of importing counterfeit goods, in addition to notifying the country of export to allow it to take the necessary measures against suspected exporters and manufacturers.
He said: “The penalties will be part of the anti-fraud law, including imposing fines in addition to other penalties,” adding, “The Chinese side will apply its own legal system.”
As for the effectiveness of Saudi Arabia’s market monitoring measures, Rabiah said his ministry was seeking to provide consumers with better service by establishing a call center. According to Rabiah, consumer satisfaction levels have jumped to 75.5 percent from 25 percent 20 months ago.
“This is the result of the Ministry of Commerce’s efforts to monitor markets,” he said, adding that the ministry “seeks to achieve what is better and will work to serve consumers.”
He said: “I believe protecting consumers means protecting honest traders who make up the majority of those in the Kingdom,” highlighting that “many traders are supportive of what the ministry is doing.”
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Shura Council Financial Committee chairman Saad Mariq said: “The signing of the quality monitoring and inspection agreement with China is to be credited to the Ministry of Commerce.”
“China is the Kingdom’s largest export partner; therefore, it was necessary to sign the quality monitoring agreement,” he said, adding that the EU uses the same policy with partner countries outside the trade bloc in order to protect its consumers and internal market.
“The agreement will prompt China to monitor the quality [of goods] before allowing manufacturers to export their goods to the Kingdom, an additional monitoring [effort] to be added to the efforts exerted by the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization.”