Trends Observed at the 107th Canton Fair

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The 107th China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair), one of China’s most significant international trade fairs with representatives from a wide range of industries, opened on April 15th, 2010 in Guangzhou. As indicators for 2010 signify global economic recovery, buyers from different parts of the world gather at the Canton Fair to scope out the wares available for what promises to be a stellar year for international commerce. On opening day alone, the fair hosted 18,487 entrants, a total higher than the year before. This positive trend in participation is an encouraging sign for both organisers and merchants alike.

Attendees noted two interesting trends in this year’s fair:

1. Difficulties in expanding the representation of importers

Organisers enlarged the size of the exhibition area designated for importers as part of an effort to place greater emphasis on import activity. However, only a handful of European and American enterprises chose to exhibit at the fair; there were representatives from the Netherlands and Poland, as well as one from the United States. Strangely, these three foreign participants do not plan to sell to mainland China. The attendee from Holland asserted that European enterprises seldom participate in The Canton Fair because the fair remains largely unknown in Europe and because European enterprises are generally unfamiliar with the Chinese market.

2. Export-dominant companies are shifting focus away from domestic markets

In the depths of the financial crisis, China's exports decreased dramatically. During the 105th Canton Fair, most exporters were trying to develop their domestic businesses. With overseas demand now recovering, these enterprises are once again shifting their focus abroad rather than on domestic sales. According to survey data, 70% of the exhibitors are interested in both local and international sales, lower than the 85% of last year. The ratio is down since a number of export-dominant enterprises have lost their previous interest in domestic sales. Besides the recovery in global demand, two reasons have been stated for this shift. The first is that overseas orders are comparatively simple. International contracts are often straightforward agreements involving a list of specifications and a price, whereas complexity arises with domestic orders in terms of the content of procurement contracts and the arrangement of distribution channels. Second, the quantities of domestic orders are usually much smaller, with the price competitiveness of foreign-trade enterprises often lost on the domestic market.

Although this year’s exporting enterprises expressed their reluctance to expand domestically, the Canton Fair, to encourage consideration for local markets, invited 8,000 domestic large and medium-sized supermarkets to seek procurement partners at the exhibition.

Catch the last days of the fair at the Canton Fair Complex on Pazhou Island in Guangzhou before it closes May 5th.

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1 Comments

ScottP said:

Perhaps potential importers feel that any product they introduce will be quickly reverse-engineered and a domestic substitute will rapidly appear. Thus making the effort not cost effective?

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