EVENTS: Reflections on the Canton Fair (Spring 2008)

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Canton I.JPGWith its two annual sessions, the Canton Fair is the most prestigious event in the Chinese trading calendar. After attending the Spring session of the Canton Fair this year, I came away with two general impressions.

Firstly, large and reputable suppliers always have the best booths and products. Yet getting a business card or contact information of a large Chinese supplier does not mean that you have a relationship with that supplier. After meeting at the Fair, follow-up phone calls, email communication and plant visits will all definitely be required. In addition, it will also be necessary for some native Chinese professionals with excellent English language skills and field sourcing experience to make sure there are no gaps in the flow of information. An export manager of a top Chinese steel mill once told me that they get dozens of new enquiries every day, and sometimes they just forget to reply to emails and faxes if there is no-one calling them regularly.

Canton II.JPGSecondly, fancy booths do not equate to good quality products. I have been to many small and medium-sized plants in the steel and machinery industries. I saw some of them at the Fair with indistinctive booths, yet they actually have really good quality products and production lines. It is therefore essential to do adequate research before the Fair, utilizing not only website information but also the opinions of industry associations and experts. The Canton Fair then becomes a good opportunity to start a relationship with sellers who are still small
but have great potential.

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Dan said:

How was attendance? I am hearing really mixed things. Some are saying attendance was fine, others saying it was way down. Some are saying attendance was down because the tire kickers could not afford to come, but that plenty of deals were made. What did you see?

Leanne said:

I didn't go to the Autumn one recently. But i did hear from familiar suppliers of steel products saying they got less orders and their main target clients didn't attend the Fair this year.

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