SERVICES PACT: Hairdressers cite potential heath risks of Chinese goods

By Yu Rei-jen, Tang Shih-ming, and Yang Ya-min  /  Staff reporters

Sun, Jun 23, 2013 - Page 3

Following Friday’s signing of the cross-strait service trade agreement, workers in Taiwan’s hairdressing industry expressed concern that Chinese firms may roll out chains of salons and use shoddy goods that would have health implications for Taiwanese.

Chou Yi-ching (周邑璟), the owner of a small hair salon in Taoyuan County’s Lujhu Township (蘆竹), said she had been in business for about 10 years, and had even weathered the SARS crisis when it seriously affected business.

Now, running a community-based shop with most of her customers coming from the neighborhood, she is able to balance work and family life, and although the stagnant economy has caused a few problems, her business has gradually stabilized, she said.

However, with the government allowing Chinese companies to invest in local beauty parlors and hair salons, Chou said: “It is likely to affect the livelihoods of workers in the industry, especially salon chains … and it [the agreement] will definitely have an impact on the market, potentially causing a wave of close-downs,” she said.

To ensure a high-quality service, all hair perming products, dyes or other treatments used in her shop are imported from Japan or Spain, she said.

China produces many shoddy products hair products, and if such Chinese firms enter Taiwan’s market on a large scale, it could affect Taiwanese people’s health, she added.

“Has the government not considered the negative impact of allowing China’s hairdressing firms to enter Taiwan?” asked Lee Ming-che (李銘微), a hair salon worker in Changhua City.

“For example, the potential harm to Taiwanese people’s health from defective Chinese-made products and the impact of price competition on local businesses,” Lee added.

However, Yeh Yung-tung (葉永通), chairperson of a national women’s perm and beauty parlor trade union, said that although the pact would affect the industry, he is not worried about it.

“Taiwanese will definitely come up with effective solutions to the situation, and customers will not endorse hair parlors set up by Chinese companies if they offer poor service,” he added.

Meanwhile, as the cross-strait agreement is to allow Chinese companies to establish and operate restaurants and other eateries in Taiwan, Tom Hsu (許湘鋐), chairman of the Association of Chain and Franchise Promotion Taiwan, said the nation’s chain and franchise industry is now active in China, so having Chinese companies open restaurants in Taiwan is unlikely to affect major local chain restaurants much.

However, a local snack bar owner surnamed Yang (楊) said that the food and beverage industry in Taiwan, being popular among entrepreneurs, is already highly competitive.

“With the recent poor economic performance, the sales revenue of individual shops has already dropped,” he said

“If more firms from China enter the industry and secure market shares in Taiwan, it is certainly going to cause more suffering to individual store owners,” he added.