Global traders remain upbeat about Canton Fair, shares China's opening-up dividends
Published: Apr 15, 2024 11:43 PM
Purchasers and exhibitors crowd the exhibition venue of the 135th session of the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, on April 15, 2024. Over 60,000 global purchasers showed up on the first day of the fair. Photo: VCG

Purchasers and exhibitors crowd the exhibition venue of the 135th session of the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, on April 15, 2024. Over 60,000 global purchasers showed up on the first day of the fair. Photo: VCG

Purchasers were seen carrying luggage, exchanging name cards when passing by each other, and rushing through the exhibition halls of the Canton Fair on Monday morning, the first day of the 135th session of China's landmark trade fair, which will run until May 5.

On the first day of the 135th session of the China Import and Export Fair, commonly known as the Canton Fair, over 60,000 global purchasers visited the physical exhibition halls.

By Sunday, more than 149,000 purchasers from 215 countries and regions had registered to visit the 135th session of Canton Fair, up 17.4 percent from the 134th session held in October and November 2023, the Global Times learned from the fair organizer.

With an exhibition area of 1.55 million square meters, the fair accommodates 28,600 enterprises attending the export exhibition and 680 firms attending the import exhibition.

One buyer from Brazil,bringing a huge suitcase with him, was rushing to the exhibition hall for new-energy vehicles (NEVs).

"The suitcase is used to hold exhibitors' brochures and business cards. I'm planning to take about 80 booklets today, which is a heavy burden if I carry them by hand," the buyer, who was in too much of a hurry to share his name, told the Global Times on Monday.

While experienced purchasers from all over the world attending the Canton Fair are trying to improve their efficiency, David Beschaftigt, a first-time Canton Fair participant from Germany, and his peers, were dazzled by the millions of products on display.

"We're looking for products that are great for selling to customers in Germany," Beschaftigt, a representative of an e-commerce platform, told the Global Times on Monday.

"It's very big here. We first look with our eyes, touch the things and check the quality. And then we can do some research if the products are interesting to sell and whether we can make profit," Beschaftigt said.

They are among the global purchasers at the Canton Fair hoping to explore the latest high-quality products for global customers.

Helpful, open to all

Exhibitors said that attending the 135th Canton Fair helps enterprises grab global orders, expand the market and help consolidate China's foreign trade and foreign investment.

"We export about $30-50 million worth of electric bicycles to the world every year, mainly to Europe and North America," Eddie Xu, sales manager at Jinhua-based Yongkang Lohas Vehicle Co, told the Global Times on Monday at the Canton Fair.

Xu said the company attends many exhibitions domestically and overseas, but the Canton Fair is the most effective one as it targets the largest customer group.

Lu Aohua, sales manager at Ji'nan-based Gweike Tech Co, echoed Xu by saying that the exhibition halls of some expos overseas are relatively small, as are the number of visitors. 

"But the Canton Fair is different. It is large, and the categories of products on display are comprehensive. It's easy to set up contacts with upstream and downstream enterprises, which makes potential customer exploration easier," Lu told the Global Times on Monday at the fair.

Gweike, a manufacturer of laser cutting machines, exports about 1.2 billion yuan ($166 million) worth of products annually, mainly to the US, Turkey, Russia, Italy and some South American countries, according to Lu.

Lu also said that he feels a larger crowd of overseas purchasers have come to this edition of the Canton Fair than at the 134th session held in October and November in 2023.

Many other exhibitors shared the same feeling. One salesperson at Supcon Chemical Industry Indonesia told the Global Times that she is already exhausted from having received some 60 batches of customers by 2 pm on Monday.

The Canton Fair, often dubbed the No.1 expo in the world in terms of scale, is seen as a symbol of foreign trade that gives confidence to international commerce dealers. The fair's popularity tells of the vitality of China's foreign trade and attractiveness to global participants.

The fair is now open to all, so global exporters and importers can enjoy the dividends of China's opening-up.

More than 9.3 million overseas merchants have participated in the Canton Fair since the first session held in 1957, the Global Times learned from the Canton Fair organizer. The number of global cooperation partners comes to 195, which has strongly promoted trade and people-to-people exchanges between China and other countries and regions in the world.

China vows to pursue higher-level opening-up and to promote mutual benefits, as was announced in this year's Government Work Report.

"We will promote coordinated development of domestic and foreign trade. Major trade events will be hosted, such as the China International Import Expo, the China Import and Export Fair, the China International Fair for Trade in Services, the Global Digital Trade Expo, and the China International Consumer Products Expo," read the report. 

The Canton Fair, together with other events, demonstrates China's determination to expand high-level opening-up and promotes an open world economy and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Behind these major events is the transformation and upgrading of China's economic structure.

Transformation and upgrading

The Canton Fair, for example, used to mainly showcase consumer goods, but in recent years, the proportion of intermediate and capital goods on display has increased to 12 percent.

In the machinery exhibition area where capital goods are concentrated, the number of booths has increased by more than 50 percent in the past five years.

Capital goods and intermediate goods are becoming more and more important in the Canton Fair, through which China provides the world with a large number of high-quality products with strong competitiveness and stable supply.

This has helped all countries and regions, especially developing countries, achieve industrialization and enhanced the resilience and stability of industrial and supply chains in the world.

The Canton Fair released on Friday a survey of exhibitors, which showed that more than 80 percent of them know more suppliers through the Canton Fair, 64 percent of exhibitors found more suitable supporting services providers, and 62 percent of exhibitors obtained more efficient production alternatives.

Consumer goods displayed at the Canton Fair are also smarter and greener, showcasing the country's advanced manufacturing level. 

The number of exhibitors for sectors such as NEVs, smart transportation, industrial automation, intelligent manufacturing and new-energy materials increased during the current Canton Fair.

There are more than 90,000 intelligent products such as brain-computer interface bionic hands, automatic navigation and transportation equipment, and artificial intelligence (AI) translation machines. More than 50 percent of exhibitors are actively applying digital technologies such as AI and big data analysis to transform production and operation.

Over 1 million new products are expected to be showcased at the first phase of the 135th session of Canton Fair, from Monday to Friday, themed "advanced manufacturing." Of these, 450,000 are green and low-carbon items and more than 250,000 are products with independent intellectual properties, the Global Times learned from the Canton Fair organizer.

The spring Canton Fair is divided into three phases, with the second phase themed "quality home furnishings" from April 23 to 27, and the third phase themed "better life" from May 1 to 5.

A cross-border e-commerce pilot zone and overseas warehouse zone were set up for the first time, with a total exhibition area of 3,000 square meters. A total of 165 e-commerce comprehensive pilot zones are promoted on the Canton Fair online platform.