SMALL shopkeepers in the Calle Metge Josep Darder and the Pedro Garau area have protested at what they call “disproportionate” competition from the many mainly Chinese run “bargain basement” shops. According to this group of small shop opwners, most of them Majorcan, “Asiatic businesses are invading the area.” Pedro Llobera, who runs the Multiprecio shop with his wife, claims that the Chinese traders “pay very high rents and sell their products at low prices. There are a lot of people working in their shops and on top of that, they don't pay the same taxes as we do because they are immigrants.” He went on to say that this means that “we cannot meet this aggressive competition, we take less money every day and our profits are going down. If this continues, we will have to close.” Llobera went on to say that “six shops have opened in the street in a few months. Every day we used to take in 150 euros, now it barely comes to 30. It's ruining us. It is said that the Chinese pay rents of 6'000 to 8'000 euros a month. Who can pay that? I'm not a racist, all I want is a limit put to the mass opening of these shops.” Salud Offerall, who runs an “everything at 100” shop in the area, said that she opened her business eight to ten years ago and it had been going well. “But now things are not the same. With the competition, takings have dropped from 300 to 100 euros a day and continue to go down. They say the Chinese don't pay the same taxes as we do.” She claimed that PIMEM, the association of small and medium sized businesses, did nothing about the situation. She also said that the Chinese-run shops opened on Sunday but she did not have the staff to do so. Mercedes Colomar, owner of Modas Simpatia, said that everyone should work in equal conditions and they wanted an inspection to make sure that everything was legal.

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