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Canton Fair offers growing variety of opportunities

BY :Xinhua

UPDATED :2024-05-07

Visitors check out motorcycles displayed during the 135th China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, in April. (Feng Yongbin/China Daily)

In 1954, Jack Perry, founder of London Export Corp, led a group of 48 British businessmen on a historic trade mission to Beijing.

Seventy years later, his grandson, Jack Perry Junior, as the new chairman of The 48 Group Club, which was founded by those 48 businessmen, came to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou to attend the 135th Canton Fair. This marked his first time at the fair.

"My first impression of the Canton Fair is the excitement here. I see a lot of faces here trying to learn, listen, and understand. The 48 Group Club has members from around the world, and they come here to understand what Chinese manufacturing is about," he said.

More than six decades on, the Canton Fair's attraction still remains. The fair, held from April 15 to May 5, attracted approximately 149,000 purchasers from 215 countries and regions for preregistration, marking a notable 17.4 percent increase compared to the previous session.

Marios Theodoulou, a buyer from Cyprus, was overwhelmed by the hospitality and positive energy on his first visit to the fair. "Our expectations are to bring a part of China's exports to Cyprus and create a trading portal for all of these products," Theodoulou said. He also planned to establish new connections for future collaboration at the fair.

Angelo, a Brazilian buyer, planned to purchase some mechanical equipment. He said it was his first time at the fair, as he usually made purchases in Europe.

"This time, I will stay in China for about 40 days, the first 15 days being at the fair, and then a month to visit companies in the country and start doing business," he said.

With a total exhibition area of 1.55 million square meters, the 135th Canton Fair had around 74,000 booths, and 4,300 new exhibitors, with an emphasis on high-quality development. A cross-border e-commerce pilot zone and overseas warehouse zone were set up for the first time.

Many "old friends" of the fair witnessed the changes and improvements.

Amanbayev Gani, an official with the Chamber of International Commerce of Kazakhstan, said that the scale of the Canton Fair had increased greatly over the past years.

"The first time we came, there were three pavilions — A, B, and C. This year, I see the new pavilion D, and also new buildings around the venue. There are a lot of new brands and companies this year," he said.

Benjamin King came to the fair for the first time in 2018 as a buyer. While at the fair, he observed that more companies needed supply chain support on the ground in China, and this eventually led him to set up Kinyu SCM, a supply chain consultancy based in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong province, where the Canton Fair is held. The company has assisted its customers in purchasing goods from China worth over US$ 140 million over the past five years. Last year, he became an exhibitor in the trade in services section of the fair.

Over the past 10 years, Chinese merchants have become more professional in their approach, with increased knowledge of international market trends and improved negotiation skills, said Giselle Bonet, director of Pinchili China Service Ltd. She believes all businessmen should take advantage of this fair's opportunity to connect with China's best factories and suppliers.

The 135th Canton Fair saw an intensified eagerness of Belt and Road Initiative participating countries. The number of buyers from those countries increased by 45.9 percent compared with the previous session.

Bekar Mikaberidze, founder of the One Belt One Road Georgian Business House, first attended the fair in 2006. He said that the Canton Fair is not just an exhibition, but an experience that leaves a lasting impact. "From clothing and furniture to solar batteries and electric cars, the fair represents the ever-evolving landscape of global trade and technology."

Noushad Mohamed, brand manager of Ikon under UAE's Lulu Group International, a frequenter of the event, put more focus on intelligent products at the fair. "Everybody's eyes are on China, trying to find out what they are doing next in the field of AI. We have also selected a lot of products related to AI, like cameras and tablets. There are huge markets and opportunities," Mohamed said.

Around 64 percent of the exhibitors in the international pavilion at the fair, a platform for companies outside China, came from BRI participating countries.

Sersim, a Turkish company mainly focusing on exports, exhibited at the international pavilion. Cagri Yazar, area sales manager of the company, said that they have been at the fair for about 20 years.

"The Canton Fair is growing every day, contributing more to the international business environment. It's really effective for us."

Editor: Pauline