Exhibition Numbers Decline For First Time in Ten Years at Canton Fair

April 23, 2009 2:15 am Last Updated: April 23, 2009 2:16 am

The 105th Chinese Import and Export Fair, also known as the “Canton Fair” and seen as an indicator of current trends in foreign trading, opened on April 15. The number of companies on exhibition declined for the first time in ten years.

The Canton Fair was held at the Chinese Import and Export Fair Complex in Guangzhou City. Hit by the financial crisis, the number of companies on exhibition this year dropped by 237, 1.06 percent. Additionally, the atmosphere was much quieter than previous years. The export area consisted of Chinese enterprises totaling 21,709 exhibitors, 208 less than last year. At the same time, the import area consisted of foreign enterprises and had 395 exhibitors from 36 countries and regions, 29 less than last year.

Organizers adopted many means to help increase attendance. These included abolishing a ban on domestic procurement and domestic buyer admission that has been in place for many years. The Fair aimed to promote both foreign trade and domestic consumption.

Organizers even took an unusual step by lowering the exhibition booth rental fee from 2,000 yuan (US$292.68) to 1,000 yuan (US$146.34). The closing time was even extended from 6p.m. to 7p.m. to allow more negotiation time. Organizers also provided free airfare, food and accommodations for foreign VIP buyers.

He Yuling, chairwoman of a shoe company in Guangdong told a reporter of Sohu (www.sohu.com) that the impact of the crisis on exports is far from over, “Those bankrupted last year were all small companies. Starting this year, some large and medium-sized enterprises also couldn’t bear the pressure and went bankrupt.”

Orders from Europe and the U.S. have continued to decline. Yang Hongnan, chairman of the U.S.-China Export Association said that pre-orders for manufacturers this year has dropped by 20 percent from that of the same period last year. An industrial worker said, “We are not asking for profit, we just hope not to go bankrupt!”

Many enterprises tend to attend these large-scale trade fairs in order to secure orders. “Although exhibitors at trade fairs may not receive any or few orders, non-exhibitors certainly receive no orders,” a person in charge of a Hangzhou foreign trade company said.

On March 1, the 19th Eastern Chinese Import and Export Commodity Fair was held in Shanghai. The number of exhibitors there declined by 10 percent. According to statistics from the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China, the total import and export value for Mainland China in March was US$162.02 billion, which had declined by 20.9 percent from that of the same time last year. Exports and imports fell 17.1 percent and 25.1 percent respectively. Though this is the forth consecutive month in which both imports and exports fell, the decline was smaller than the previous two months.

Read original article in Chinese.