Global Markets

Canton Fair opens online with record exhibits

The 129th session of the China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, on Thursday kicked off online with a record number of products on display.

Participating companies have submitted more than 2.7 million exhibits, which is 230,000 more than that of the previous session, said Xu Bing, spokesperson of the fair.

The 10-day event will last until April 24. It is the third time for the fair to be held online following two virtual events held in June and October last year.

The fair has prepared about 60,000 exhibition booths for nearly 26,000 domestic and international exhibitors, Xu said. Its import section will maintain its size, hosting 340 companies from 28 countries and regions.

The event will also display 820,000 new products, about 90,000 more than the last session. Organizers will hold 137 new product releases for 85 leading companies via photos, videos, 3D and virtual reality (VR) technologies.

Organizers expect the online fair held during the pandemic to help domestic foreign trade firms receive more orders and boost the global economic recovery by stabilizing the global supply chains.

The latest session will also reserve a special display area for rural vitalization, which will help businesses in less-developed regions explore overseas markets. Previously, a “poverty relief” display area assumed the same function.

Since the 122nd session of the Canton Fair was held in 2017, the fair has provided more than 8,000 free booths for 6,000 enterprises from poverty-stricken areas, helping them save 86.69 million yuan (about 13.21 million U.S. dollars) through exemptions and reductions of booth fees, according to the fair.

Founded in 1957, the Canton Fair is seen as an important barometer of China’s foreign trade. The 128th session attracted approximately 26,000 domestic and overseas enterprises showcasing more than 2.47 million products.

New Zealand is an important source of buyers at the Canton Fair, with more than 800 buyers participating in each session.

Martin Thompson, Chairman of New Zealand China Trade Association, said that New Zealand’s business community favors Chinese-made products boasting high quality and reasonable prices and looks forward to resuming offline business exchanges as soon as possible.

Fabien Dessaint, a French buyer who has attended the Canton Fair since 2007 said that he would have been in Guangzhou now if the pandemic hadn’t broken out. “We had to postpone our events in China, but we had an increase in turnover thanks to the import of goods. E-commerce in France has taken advantage of the COVID crisis,” he said.

Praising the Canton Fair’s digital setup as impressive, Dessaint said its website is very user-friendly, which allows people to see the products from a digital marketing angle.

“After having found the product we need, we can chat with the supplier through instant messaging. We can also schedule an appointment for a video call and have exhibitors live stream their products and production line,” he added.

Dessaint said he hopes that the Canton Fair could get back to its normal form. “I am in a hurry to participate in the Canton fair and contact my partners and suppliers because we need human communication especially in business.”

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