Held twice a year in the city of Guangzhou, capital of the Guangdong province, the Canton Fair has been running since 1957 and is considered to be the largest trade fair in China. The Canton Fair (full name being China Import and Export Fair) is organized by China Foreign Trade Center and supported by the Ministry of Commerce of China and People’s Government of the Guangdong Province. To accommodate the more than 150,000 different products showcased by more than 55,800 exhibitors, the Canton Fair is split into three sessions. Phase 1 of the current Canton Fair took place on October 15-19 and included Electronics & Household Electrical Appliances; Lighting Equipment; Machinery, Vehicles & Spare Parts; Hardware & Tools; Chemical Products; Energy Resources; and Building Materials. Phase 2 is set to take place on October 23-27 featuring Consumer Goods; Gifts; and Home Decorations. Phase 3 on October 31 to November 4 includes Office Supplies; Recreation Products; Cases & Bags; Food; Textiles & Garments; Shoes; and Medicines, Medical Devices & Health Products.
The first phase of the Canton Fair ended with a marked decline in the sectors of machinery and electronic products, with turnover totaling US$ 6.44 billion in comparison with US$ 12.5 billion in the same period in 2013. The drop in trade was attributed to weakening demand and the sluggish global economy. Other factors suggested included a lack of innovative products, particularly in consumer electronic products, as well the trend of manufacturers moving their production facilities out of China to other Asian countries where labor is cheaper, and example being Samsung and LG that have moved some of their production over to Vietnam.
E-commerce platforms have also had an impact on attendance figures as potential customers source their products online. It was also noted that there was a considerable drop in the numbers of visitors from Africa which was attributed to the ongoing Ebola crisis. Conversely, there was reportedly an increase in representatives from Russia, which is in line with recent reports that trade between China and Russia is on the increase.
One of the booths to attract a steady flow of visitors was presenting new freight train routes, running along similar routes to the legendary Silk Road – one linking western china with Central Asia, and the other linking to Russia and Eastern Europe. It is anticipated that merchants along these routes will support trade with China as delivery obstacles are overcome.
With two more sessions left of the Canton Fair there are still many opportunities for manufacturers and suppliers to network and establish and strengthen trade ties.
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