Chen Guoqing: “In China, natural stone for the private home is not so popular as in the West, and we are fighting a lack of professional stonemasons and installers“

Chen Guoqing, President of the Chinese Stone Association (CSMA). Photo: CSMA

Interview with the President of the Chinese Stone Association (CSMA) with a preview of the Stone Forum at Xiamen Stone Fair (May 18 – 21, 2021)

The Chinese economy and the stone sector have had a strong restart after the Covid-19 pandemic. Peter Becker from Stone-Ideas.com spoke with Chen Guoqing, President of the China Stone Material Association (CSMA), about the current situation and the future orientation of the industry.
 

Stone-Ideas.com: In Western countries, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many private people did refurbish their homes – a lot of stone was sold to those customers from the Middle Class. Did that happen in China, too?

Chen Guoqing: It is estimated that in China there are around 5 million apartments to be refurbished each year, which equals 400 million square meters. And each of them should be refurbished almost every 10 years. The average cost for such refurbishings increased from US-$20,000 to 30,000 in the last 5 years in the major cities of China. Costs are even higher in metropolitan areas like Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen. Different from the situation in Western countries, natural stone is not that popular in China’s home decoration. Here, people prefer spending more money on wood products. Other reasons that lower the stone consumption in that field include less accessibility, higher costs, lack of professional stonemasons for installation and lack of systems for proper stone maintenance and care.
 

Stone-Ideas.com: In our last interview, Mr. Chen announced some trends in the Chinese stone sector, e.g. the growing demand for higher quality products. What is new, now?

Chen Guoqing: Last year, the Chinese government put forward their goals of reaching peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. With the formulation and implementation of standards on green quarries, green plants, green products, and green building, green development has received unprecedented attention and emphasis. Therefore, on May 19, 2021, CSMA and Xiamen Stone Fair will jointly host the 2021 Xiamen Stone Forum, on exploring green gene of stone product and green footprint for stone application. Followed by several other campaigns, we will start with the new installation guide and the promotion of best-practice, to make the application of stone more natural and environmental. Nowadays, young consumers pay more attention to product design with a distinctive personality, consumer-centered service, and experience than to the product and price itself. We believe that the New Stone Age will soon be coming in this decade.
 

Stone-Ideas.com: Let’s talk about statistics. How were the Chinese stone sector’s data of imports/exports in the first quarter of 2021?

Chen Guoqing: China’s Stone exports in the first quarter of 2021 were 1.711 million tons in quantity, and 1.239 billion US-$ in value, an increase of 4.4% or 25.1% respectively. Our stone imports in the first quarter were 3.242 million tons (a decrease of 0.7%) and 649 million US-$ in value (the same as in the previous year). In the first quarter, the sales of large and medium companies have increased by 40.4%, and profits are increased by 45.1% year on year.
 

Stone-Ideas.com: How were these data for the entire Chinese economy?

Chen Guoqing: In the first quarter, China’s exports reached 4614 billion yuan, which increased by 38.7% year on year; the imports are 3854.7 billion yuan in value, an increase of 19.3% year on year. Exports to Europe, the United States, and other traditional markets increased by 46.9%. ASEAN countries remains China’s largest trade partners; exports to the belt and road countries increased by 21.4%.

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(13.05.2021, USA: 13.05.2021)