Merchant numbers were up on the first day of the country's second-largest trade show, the East China Fair, which opened yesterday.
The annual fair, which will run until next Tuesday at the city's New International Expo Center, attracted 3,522 firms from home and abroad.
Its exhibition space covers 100,350 square meters and is divided into four sub-sections apparel, textiles, decor and consumer goods.
The 17th East China Fair, which is co-organized by nine governments across East China, has become the second-largest of its kind in the country after the Chinese Import and Export Commodities Fair, or the "Canton Fair".
The combined gross domestic product of those nine co-organizers accounts for 45 percent of the nation's total, while their combined export volume accounts for nearly half of China's total. This has made the fair an increasingly important platform for the country's exporters and importers.
"It (the fair) is especially important for the textile, apparel and handicraft export industry in the region and the country as a whole," said Wang Chenghu, an exhibitor from a textile export company in nearby Jiangsu Province.
"We cannot afford to miss the opportunity to meet our prospective buyers at this fair as a considerable amount of our export contracts are done here," Wang said.
More visitors and deals are expected this year than at last year's session, organizers said.
The 16th fair saw 3,540 firms and 23,660 overseas merchants when it was held last year, up 15.08 percent over the previous session, according to figures provided by the organizers.
A total of US$3.3 billion in trade deals were clinched during last year's fair, an increase of 11.68 percent over 2005.
A growing number of foreign companies have shown interest in the fair this year, keen to tap the huge potential market in the world's most populous country.
Foreign exhibitors previously attached little importance to the fair as it was more export-oriented, the organizers said.
"But the situation has changed," said Chen Zhangyuan, an official from the Shanghai Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Commission, which is involved in organizing the fair.
This year, 144 overseas companies from 15 countries and regions have booked 188 booths at the fair, according to the organizers.
About 120 overseas firms came to the fair last year.
This change is in line with the country's new policy of encouraging more imports to ease the surging trade surplus.
"More and more foreign firms are coming to the show with novel and competitive products," Wang said.
And some foreign firms are attending the fair en masse. Twelve South Korean fabric and accessory makers have a zone in the textiles sub-section showcasing their products and technologies.
(China Daily March 2, 2007)