American businessman John Elassir is optimistic about his car perfume company's performance in China.
"The Chinese are buying more expensive cars, so they must need car perfume of better quality," Elassir said, at the country's largest trade fair which is currently being held in Guangzhou.
Not far from his booth were the sparkling Chevrolet roadster and the Cadillac limousine from Detroit, surrounded by a flock of gabbling visitors.
On the first day of the fair, Elassir talked with more than a dozen Chinese clients who showed interest in his product.
Ever-rising domestic demand in China has attracted more exporters like Elassir hoping to grab a share of the vast Chinese market.
Official statistics show retail sales in the first half this year rose 15.4 percent, marking the steepest rise in nearly 10 years.
At the on-going National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Hu Jintao reemphasized the importance of boosting domestic consumption in his keynote speech, shortly after it was announced the trade surplus had reached a record high in the first nine months this year.
"The ratio of consumption to GDP will increase steadily, and consumption, investment and export will be coordinated to boost economic growth," said Hu.
Hu also said China will propel the transition from relying mainly on investment and exports to relying on a well coordinated combination of consumption, investment and exports, with its domestic market ranking as one of the largest in the world by 2020.
The yawning trade surplus has long been seen as a concern, prompting the Chinese government to adopt a raft of measures including reducing export tax refunds and raising the currency exchange rate. However, the effects have yet to emerge.
Formerly known as the Canton Fair, the country's oldest trade fair officially changed its name to the China Import and Export Commodities Fair earlier this year.
It was seen as a move to show the world China's efforts to increase imports and reduce trade surplus, which has triggered trade disputes with other countries.
After the Canton Fair added an import section to its exhibition, other major trade fairs, including the China International Fair for Investment and Trade and the China Hi-tech Fair, followed suit.
"These nation-level fairs will serve as a platform for foreign exporters and will play a positive role in promoting imports," said Liu Songping, head of the Guangzhou Exhibition Business Research Institution.
Chen Yong, an agent for a U.S.-made gardening tool from east China's Zhejiang Province, said the product is selling well in the domestic market even though the price is much higher than similar China-made products.
"Made-in-China products are ubiquitous in the world, but we have to realize that the domestic market still have many blanks to fill, and that many imported goods from developed countries excel in quality," said Chen.
"We are not going to sacrifice quality for lower cost. As Chinese people become more affluent, they will choose those with better quality rather than those with just lower prices," said John Elassir, whose "Exolica"-branded car perfume is sold in more than 100 countries.
"Buying Airbus and Boeing alone is not going to balance China's trade. There lies big potential in domestic consumption," said a purchaser from west China's Chongqing Municipality, who declined to give his name.
(Xinhua News Agency October 18, 2007)