Colombia Bans Chinese-Made Sombreros

Colombian authorities have stepped in to protect weavers of painstakingly hand-crafted traditional cane sombreros from mass-produced Chinese imports costing a fraction of the price. From The Economist’s Americas View blog

Carlos Bellido, who sells the original vueltiao hats outside the posh Santa Clara hotel in Cartagena’s colonial centre, says the Chinese knockoffs were flooding the market, and many people, especially tourists, opted for the cheaper version of the hats. “I have nothing against the Chinese,” he says, “[but] their hats fall apart. They get floppy and unravel.”

Faced with the competition from China, Zenú artisans complained to local authorities, who sided with the craftsmen. On January 16th the Zenú sent out members of their Indian guard, armed with ceremonial staffs, to check the hats being sold in coastal cities and confiscate the knockoffs. The following day, authorities banned imports of the Chinese version, arguing that the hat enjoys a protected designation of origin. “Free trade in the 21st century has rules, Sergio Díaz-Granados, the trade minister, told indigenous leaders at a meeting this month to coordinate the government’s response. “It’s not the law of the strongest against the weakest.”

February 3, 2013 5:29 PM
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