China’s Canton Fair to resume in-person events for the first time after COVID-19
Published: Sep 14, 2021 07:03 PM
The venue for the 128th China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province Photo: Chi Jingyi/GT

The venue for the 128th China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province Photo: Chi Jingyi/GT

The 130th China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair), one of the largest trade fairs in the world, will resume in-person exhibition in October in South China's Guangdong Province for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese commerce officials announced on Tuesday, marking another milestone in the country's fight against COVID-19 as all large-scale trade events and exhibitions have now resumed. 

With business opportunities rising despite challenges brought by the pandemic, this year's Canton Fair will feature both online and in-person showcases for the first time, providing a much-needed platform for businesses to pursue new orders and address issues across global supply chains, analysts noted.

However, due to epidemic control and prevention measures, the fair will be shortened to five days this year with the opening ceremony to be held on October 14, Ren Hongbin, a vice commerce minister, told a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday. 

The in-person exhibition will include 7,500 enterprises in an exhibition area covering 400,000 square meters, Chu Shijia, director of the China Foreign Trade Center, told the press conference. "In terms of scale, it remains the world's largest exhibition amid the pandemic," Chu said. 

The resumption of the Canton Fair shows China is confident in containing the virus, Bai Ming, deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce's International Market Research Institute, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"From the China International Fair for Trade in Services held in Beijing, to the China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, we have established effective measures and ways of holding large exhibitions," Bai said. 

Commenting on the impact of recent COVID-19 outbreaks and flare-ups in China, Zhang Xin, a vice governor of Guangdong, said that contingency plans for the Canton Fair will require participants to provide proof that they have been vaccinated and a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test to enter the venue. 

The Canton Fair, an important platform for boosting global trade cooperation and China's dual circulation strategy, will play a prominent role in stabilizing trade with the world's second-largest economy, while global market demand continues to face huge uncertainties, Ren noted. 

China's August trade figures registered a surprising uptick despite soaring international freight prices and port congestion. Official data showed that China's foreign trade reached $530.3 billion in August, up 28.8 percent year-on-year and up 4.2 percent month-on-month.

However, a questionnaire shared with exhibitors of the trade fair showed that despite the solid trade figures, risks and challenges facing small entities remain acute. There are still many "uncertain, unstable and unbalanced factors" impacting foreign trade development, said Ren.

"Affected by the new Delta variant, some countries once again have suspended production, halting the production of a large number of intermediate products such as microchips, which has seriously disrupted the stability and smoothness of the global industrial chain and supply chain," he said. 

"Meanwhile, some countries have politicized trade issues and erected a technological blockade, which have also increased the risks to the industrial chain and supply chains for trade companies," Ren added.