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Canton Fair ready to stimulate trade

By Zhong Nan Source: China Daily Updated: 2021-10-14


Staff members lay out exhibits at the exhibition center that is going to host the 130th session of the China Import and Export Fair in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Guangzhou-based extravaganza begins on Friday as COVID under better control

The upcoming 130th session of the China Import and Export Fair, featuring both online and offline activities for the first time, will advance the common growth of industry, supply and innovation chains as well as bring about effective interaction between the international and domestic markets, said its organizers and experts.

The event, also known as the Canton Fair, will be held from Friday to Tuesday in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. The biannual fair was held only virtually twice in 2020 and once earlier this year due to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event aims to draw more global buyers from online platforms to assist export-oriented companies gain new orders, said Chu Shijia, deputy head and secretary-general of the fair's organizing committee.

"Going online doesn't mean a simple format changing for the Canton Fair, but a new structural design and process reengineering via the injection of digital technologies," said Chu, who is also director-general of the Guangzhou-based China Foreign Trade Center.

Since COVID-19 has caused a severe impact on global supply chains and traditional economic and trade activities, the new economic form of "digital trade" represented by cross-border e-commerce has quickly become a new way to boost trade growth, he said.

China's cross-border e-commerce imports and exports reached 1.69 trillion yuan ($260.9 billion) in 2020, up 31.1 percent year-on-year. Over the past five years, the country's cross-border e-commerce volume has grown by nearly 10 times, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.

Measures to resume offline exhibitions will stimulate the enthusiasm of domestic consumers and encourage Chinese manufacturers to further solidify growth points in the home market, said Ren Hongbin, vice-minister of commerce.

Apart from organizing about 60,000 online exhibition booths for 26,000 domestic and international exhibitors, the fair will have an offline exhibition area of 400,000 square meters and cover 16 categories of products, from consumer goods to manufacturing machinery, said the Ministry of Commerce.

With China increasingly bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control, the recovery of its convention and exhibition business segment has helped the Canton Fair resume offline exhibitions this month, said Bai Ming, deputy director of the international market research department at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

"Eager to restore their earnings strength, companies from all sectors are hoping to communicate with their clients face-to-face and gain more market share via trade fairs and other commercial platforms," Bai said.

In addition to becoming a normalized event in the future, he said the integration of online and offline exhibitions of the Canton Fair is also in line with the trend of the diversification of international trade methods and digital transformation in many sectors.

"In the past, offline exhibitions focused on large-volume purchases in shipping containers. It was difficult to take into account the individual needs of smaller buyers. Online exhibitions nowadays can break through the limitations of time and space, meeting many business group needs for small-volume, multi-variety and personalized products at a lower cost," Bai added.

Li Qiyuan, director of the export department at Jiangsu Jinlong Technology Co Ltd, a privately owned knitting and weaving machinery manufacturer and an exhibitor at the Canton Fair later this week, said that the online and offline integrated exhibitions will provide new opportunities for foreign trade companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.

For business conducted on a smaller scale, it is more practical and efficient to seek opportunities and directly participate in the global industrial chain, Li said, adding that the company will hold both online and offline exhibitions at the fair this time around.

"Our key export markets are Bangladesh, India and Southeast Asia. Affected by the pandemic, it is not so convenient for our clients in these countries to travel to China and the online exhibition is ideal for us to reach them," Li said.

The China Import and Export Fair started in 1957. It is the country's largest and longest-running comprehensive trade fair, and has the largest number of overseas buyers and product categories, said the Ministry of Commerce.