China is "prudently optimistic" about the result of this week's 111th Session of the China Import and Export Fair, or the Canton Fair, the Ministry of Commerce said on Saturday, a forecast that augers well for increased foreign trade.
The 111th Session of the China Import and Export Fair, or the Canton Fair, with an exhibiton area of 1.16 million square meters and 59,434 exhibition booths, starts on Sunday in Guangzhou. [Xinhua]
"We have a prudently optimistic expectation about the export deals during this Canton Fair. We estimate that the value of orders placed by overseas buyers will maintain the record of $37.9 billion set in the autumn session of the 110th Canton Fair last year," Liu Jianjun, deputy director-general of the China Foreign Trade Center of the ministry, told a news conference.
China's GDP grew a less-than-expected 8.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, the least in almost three years after an 8.9 percent gain in the fourth quarter, as export and domestic demand cooled, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday. The nation reported a moderated import growth of 5.3 percent in March from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs said on Tuesday, and exports rose 8.9 percent year-on-year.
China's foreign trade development is challenged by an uncertain global economy, Liu said. "The EU debt crisis still haunts the bloc, while major developed economies are troubled by high unemployment and insufficient growth momentum, and emerging markets suffer inflation and a slowdown in growth.
"However, the global market still has a strong demand for China's highly competitive exports," he said, which is why authorities expect the spring fair to generate sales near the record value of the last session.
More than 200,000 foreign buyers will come to the fair (April 15-19), while 104,000 domestic exporters have also applied to attend, according to a news release from the fair.
Wang Yuwen, an analyst with the Finance Research Center of the Bank of Communications, said that "China will regain export growth in the second quarter".
"The external situation is getting better for Chinese exporters. As economies are recovering steadily in the US and Japan, China's exports to these two major destinations will keep increasing in the second quarter while exports to emerging markets will speed up," Wang said.
Besides promoting exports, this spring's Canton Fair has also set a goal of balancing international trade by promoting imports as well.
The fair established an area for foreign enterprises for the first time in the 101st Canton Fair in 2007. By March 31, a total of 520 enterprises from 44 countries and regions had booked a booth in the area with the top exhibitors from China's neighboring countries and regions including South Korea, India and Turkey.
For Asian countries, "the cost for them to travel here to attend the fair is lower than that for US and European companies," Liu said. "Local governments in our neighboring countries and regions have kept an eye on China's economy and subsidized their small- and medium-sized enterprises to attend trade fairs in China in order to promote their exports," he added.
A new round of industrialization in major developed economies expanded their exports to China, while small and medium enterprises are eager to tap Chinese market through the Canton Fair, Liu said.
He added that the country is expecting developed countries in Europe and US to relax restrictions on exporting high tech to China.
"It requires efforts from both the importer (China) and the exporter to strike a balance of trade," said Liu.