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Chinese lanterns flood Sri Lankan markets for Vesak

As the Buddhist festival of Vesak is observed on Saturday, Sri Lanka’s traditional lantern market, which usually flourishes during this period, has found itself under competition from a new rival; the Chinese.

Cheaper, readymade and easier to store, demand for Chinese-made lanterns has taken off in Sri Lanka, leaving the domestic market in the lurch.

The recent influx of the foreign goods has led to traditional lantern traders calling for the Sri Lankan government to intervene and protect them against their Chinese rivals.

Bandula Perera, a local lantern maker, said,

"I have around 100 people making lanterns over the past seven months. I have already spent over 200,000 rupees for material. But can’t recover even the labour cost, because Chinese lanterns are cheaper."

The call comes as the government saw protests from local dairy farmers, who complained the government was not doing enough to protect their industry. The government subsequently stated they would purchase all milk from dairy farmers produced through their state-owned company Milco, as well as raising taxes on foreign milk powder to "encourage and protect local dairy industry”.

Sri Lanka’s deputy economic development minister, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene, however said that with the Chinese lanterns, the government would not intervene.

Wary of aggravating China, which Sri Lanka relies heavily relis upon for diplomatic dupport and is the country’s largest financial doner, Abeywardene said,

"Our Vesak lantern producers should increase the quality of the product to compete with them (Chinese). That is the solution."

See here for the report by Lanka Business Online.

See our earlier posts:

Prices rise as Mahinda Economics unwinds (16 Feb 2012)

Mahinda Economics
(21 Sep 2011)

Bank lending and ethnicity
(27 Jan 2011)

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