Foshan is the biggest and most important ceramic manufacturing center nationwide with over an annual output of 100 billion RMB. However, ceramic manufacturing is widely regarded as a low-tech, low-profit industry that is fiercely competitive.
At the upcoming “21st Century Maritime Silk Road Forum” in Zhuhai, Monalisa Group Company Limited, one of the key Foshan-based tile manufacturers, will showcase how it is looking to product innovation and global counterparts to break trade barriers in overseas markets.
The photo shows a ceramic product named“Setting Sail” that Monalisa Group is about to display during the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Forum. [Photo provided to Newsgd.com]
Breaking trade barriers with new product categories
Zhang Qikang, Director of Monalisa Group said exporting ceramic products faced challenges of anti-dumping measures in many countries. “India has started imposing punitive tariffs of 15-55 percent on polished ceramics in 2017,” said Zhang, “ordinarily products can hardly survive, and so we have to be more innovative.”
Since it was founded in 1992, Monalisa has been investing big in R&D. Now the company owns four major scientific research and technology innovation platforms gathering academic talent from across the country. “We have over 300 staff working in R&D, and we keep looking to cooperate with universities and research institutes,” said Zhang Qikang.
Zhang Qikang, Director of Monalisa Group, was introducing tiles produced by their Italian partner to journalists. [Photo provided to Newsgd.com]
Due to this continued effort, Monalisa has taken the lead in China developing new product categories, such as lightweight ceramic panels and large format tiles. Zhang Qikang said making tiles thinner and larger can save consumption and is more suitable for large-scale construction. “These products have higher thresholds, thus, they are popular in many overseas markets, especially in India.”
Now Monalisa Group exports its products to roughly 100 countries and regions around the globe, and has witnessed a 14 percent increase in volume with those along the “Belt and Road Initiative”.
Going global with both domestic and overseas counterparts
Going global is an inevitable trend for local enterprises in Guangdong. And recently this trend has been accelerated, leading to great opportunities for companies like Monalisa.
“We attend the SAIE every year. It's one of the biggest construction materials expo's worldwide held by the BolognaFiere in Italy,” said Zhang Qikang, “we learn a lot from overseas players there, and seek cooperation to set the tone for next year's products.”
A staff from the company's overseas department said they usually looked for product designs and equipment at the expo. “This year we imported a glazing machine. It will help us produce a variety of new products next year.”
Monalisa's tile products used in the Country Garden's Forest City project in Malaysia. [Photo provided to Newsgd.com]
In addition, Monalisa teams up with domestic giants, such as Country Garden and Vanke, to better allow the company to further expand into global markets via their mega overseas projects.
“We participated in the Forest City real estate project, an investment by Country Garden in Malaysia,” said Zhang, “with an overall investment of 250 billion yuan, we have received orders for 200 thousand square meters of ceramics thus far. And there will be more in the future.”
Zhang Qikang said close cooperation with global counterparts provided huge potentials to jointly develop new products, and helped enter new markets with lower risks. “Ceramic manufacturing has already made its name in China, and I see our connection with the world has become deeper than ever before.”
Author: Jasmine Yin
Editor: Simon Haywood; Wing Zhang