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Guangzhou Fair Predicts Export Rise

The 94th Chinese Export Commodities Fair is preparing for a boom this month after its April session was hit hard by the SARS epidemic.

Xu Bing, spokesman for the fair, said he expected big surges in the number of foreign buyers and the trade volume at this coming session, which is scheduled to be held from tomorrow to October 30.

He predicted that between 80,000 and 100,000 foreign buyers will visit the fair, three or four times the number at last session.

"The trade volume will experience a large surge, helping boost China's export business," Xu said.

Foreign buyers placed export orders worth US$4.42 billion at the April session, barely a quarter of the volume achieved at the fair last autumn.

This month's fair is due to see 10,195 companies exhibit their goods. This is an increase of 11.69 percent compared with the April session.

The exhibitors will cover a record area of 360,000 square meters.

To guard against the potential threat of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which is now under control, at the Guangzhou fair, local health departments have worked out detailed preventive health plans. For instance, all trading halls have been installed with portable or stationary infrared devices to monitor the temperatures of visitors.

Health departments will also send medical teams to stay at the fair complex in Haizhu District and various hotels. They will set up systems for emergencies and the reporting of diseases.

Business deals struck at every Guangzhou export commodities fair account for one-third of the total national volume of general trade each year.

In the first eight months of this year, China exported US$265.8 billion worth of goods, up 32.5 percent year-on-year.

This export growth, although slowed by the SARS epidemic, was better than most economists had expected.

While China has been working hard to increase its exports, it has also been a big importer so far this year.

China's import growth outpaced that of exports by 8.1 percentage points, rising 40.6 percent year-on-year in the first eight months of this year.

The total volume of imports stood at US$256.9 billion in the period, an average of US$32.1 billion for each month. August saw a record US$34.62 billion in imports.

The Ministry of Commerce said it expected the import market to expand a great deal. China will import US$1 trillion worth of goods and services in the coming three years, it predicted.

(China Daily October 14, 2003)

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