More than six decades on, Canton Fair continues to inject fresh energy into global trade

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 28, 2023
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The China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) is like a miniature "global village," with businessmen from all corners of the globe roaming the vast halls, exploring products on display at various booths, and talking with potential partners.

Among the thousands of trade fairs currently held across China each year, the Canton Fair has the longest pedigree. Launched in 1957, eight years after the People's Republic of China was founded, the first Canton Fair featured just 13 Chinese companies and attracted buyers from 19 countries and regions.

Throughout the ensuing decades, the event has connected Chinese producers with international buyers twice a year without fail, despite the ups and downs of the global economy. The current 134th session of the fair, which attracted over 28,000 exhibiting companies and buyers from over 200 countries and regions, speaks volumes about the event's significance.

Behind the continuity of the fair is a rapidly growing manufacturing sector in China and the mutual needs of Chinese and global businesses.

"Only unexpected, not unavailable," said Indonesian buyer William Widjaja, describing the variety of the Chinese products on offer at the fair.

As the sourcing director of Kawan Lama Group, Indonesia's retail giant, Widjaja said the group imports around 3,500 containers every month, among which 90 percent are from China.

"Our group has been visiting the Canton Fair since 1995," he said. "It is the most important show for us, for it's the only one-stop shopping platform for almost everything!"

The current Canton Fair has 55 exhibition sections, with a total exhibition area of 1.55 million square meters, showcasing products that cover China's complete industrial chain, catered to different tastes and expectations of global buyers.

In the bathroom products area, all tastes -- and wallets -- are catered for. One washstand and mirror combination is up for grabs for as little as 9.9 U. S. dollars, while not far away, a high-end bathtub costs as much as a new car.

One vendor popular with curious buyers is JAZZI Pool & Spa Products Co., Ltd, with its smart pool and bathtub products featuring functions such as massaging and filtrating.

"We signed a big deal as a good start!" said Yu Zelong, president of the Guangzhou-based enterprise. On the first morning after its booth was opened, the company inked a contract with a buyer from the Netherlands, making it the exclusive agent of a newly-designed spa bathtub product.

"We are a 30-year-old company, and have been participating in this fair for 20 years," Yu said. "We met most of our North American and Western European partners at this fair."

Like JAZZI, many Chinese enterprises use the Canton Fair to "go global," and the fair has been integral to China's foreign trade growth. Back in the 1970s, the annual transaction volume of the fair once accounted for around half of China's total export.

Nowadays, with the rise of various trade events and the expansion of foreign trade platforms, especially with the growth of e-commerce, the Canton Fair is no longer the only channel for companies to secure overseas orders. But the fair maintains its significance and has evolved from a place to do business to a multifunctional platform for global trade.

Osker Axel Oskarsson, CEO of Iceland's X18 company, has participated in the Canton Fair over 40 times. The company aims to bring quality and cost-effective products from Chinese factories to buyers in Iceland and other countries.

"Although we already have an office in China, I still have to come to the fair. If you want to stay in business, you need to know what is happening. And the Canton Fair is a place where you get to know the newest technologies and information."

For Chen Zukun, general manager of Shandong Silver Phoenix Co., Ltd, a porcelain products manufacturer in east China, the fair is a place to go for orders and an opportunity to connect.

"It is an occasion to meet with our clients in person and discuss new plans and programs. In addition, we are exposed to the demands of global buyers," he said.

The fair has also seen the attendance of a growing number of foreign exhibitors. Of this year's exhibitors, 650 are from 43 countries and regions other than China.

Leem Cai Jin, an agent for exhibitors from the Republic of Korea (ROK) attending the second and third phases of the fair, said that nearly 70 booths had been assigned to the Korean companies, which brought products including cosmetics, building materials, foods and health care products.

"The Canton Fair is a platform with global influence," he said. "From here, we can not only sell our products to the Chinese market, but also get into contact with buyers from all across the world."

"From the Canton Fair, we can see the vitality of the Chinese economy, and the growing desire for economic and trade cooperation among countries," said Chu Shijia, deputy director and secretary general of the fair and also head of the China Foreign Trade Center.

It is a bond between China and the rest of the world, which has been and will continue contributing to the stability of global industrial and supply chains, Chu said. 

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