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An Introduction to Chinese Export Commodities Fair
2002/11/26 0:00:00 Source:Chinese Export Commodities Fair

Chinese Export Commodities Fair, also called Canton Fair, is held twice a year in Spring and Autumn since it was inaugurated in the Spring of 1957. It is China's largest trade fair of the highest level, of the most complete varieties and of the largest attendance and business turnover. Preserving its traditions, the Fair is a comprehensive and multifunctional event of international importance.

Forty-seven Trading Delegations, being composed of thousands of China's best foreign trade corporations (enterprises) with good credibility and sound financial capabilities, take part in the Fair, including foreign trade companies, factories, scientific research institutions, foreign invested enterprises, wholly foreign-owned enterprises, private enterprises, etc.

Besides traditional way of negotiating against samples, the Fair holds Canton Fair online. The Fair leans to export trade, though import business is also done here. Apart from the above-mentioned, various types of business activities such as economic and technical cooperation's and exchanges, commodity inspection, insurance, transportation, advertising, consultation, etc. are also carried out in flexible ways. Business people from all over the world are gathering in Guangzhou, exchanging business information and developing friendship.

Sponsors: Ministry of Commerce, P.R.China.; People's Government of Guangdong Province.

Conducted by: China Foreign Trade Centre

Web: http://www.icecf.com

Email: cecffld@ec.com.cn

Fair Session: Phase 1: April.15th -20th, Phase 2: April.25th-30th (Spring)
                   Phase 1: Oct.15th-20th, Phase 2: Oct.25th-Oct.30th (Autumn)
                   Fair Interval: Oct.21th-Oct.24th

Interval: two phases a session, two sessions a year

Duration: 6 days each phase, 2 phases each session

Venue: the CECF Complex, 117 Liu Hua Road, Guangzhou, China


The Development Trend of CECF

Larger Number of Foreign Business People Quality of Attendance Gradually Improved

In the early days of Canton Fair, invitees were mainly concentrated in a few countries and regions in Asia. As the Fair developed and the Gate of the Country opened, more and more foreign business people from more and more countries and regions entered into business with Canton Fair. In recent years, each session of the Fair was visited by more than 80, 000 foreign business people, and the number of visitors from Hong Kong and Macao, who mainly did entrepot trade, markedly decreased, with the number of business people from America, Europe, Australia, etc.

Steady Growth In Business Volume Some were Changed In Business Partners

Although the Canton Fair is being made multi-functional, export trade has remained its business at the core, that is, it is the export volume that counts. The Fair's business records have shown that, no matter in which historical period, the Fair remained steady in its trade and the export transactions kept growing. Even in the "Three years of Difficulty" (1959-1961), the Fair's export trade continued to rise (4.9% over 1959, and 17.5% over 1960). In the "Ten Years of National Turmoil", the export business of the Fair, generally speaking, tended to go up, although it also suffered some setbacks. For example, the business concluded at the Autumn Fair'70 was worth US$500 million and at the Autumn Fair'72, US$ l billion. In the years of Reform and Opening-up, the export turnover of the Fair increased by leaps and bounds. Particularly worth mentioning is the 76th Session of the Fair when its export volume broke through US$ 10 billion, as a result of the policy of "The Trading Delegations are to be organized by different provinces and municipalities; the exhibition halls are to be arranged by the Chambers of Commerce. While Trading Delegations and exhibition halls are to be integrated, the exhibitions are to be arranged according to trades". The annual export volume of the Canton Fair accounted for nearly one fifth of the country's export total of the same year.

In sharp contrast to the early days when it mainly did business with Hong Kong, Macau and countries in Southeast Asia, the Canton Fair has today expanded its business to EU countries, the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, the Middle East, the CIS, Africa, Latin America, etc. In terms of business volume with the Fair, EU has taken the place of Hong Kong and Macau. The business transactions concluded at the 86th Session with EU countries accounted for 34% of the total, making EU the main force. Trade with the United States, the Middle East and Latin American countries also rose by big margins. The Changes in the Fair in terms of trading partners as well as the attendance show that initial results have been achieved by the Canton Fair in carrying out the strategy of market pluralism.

Forty-six unusual years have elapsed and the Canton Fair has retained its vigour and vitality, keeping paces with the times. Apart from the reasons accounting for the un-ending flourishing of the Canton Fair, such as its being in close proximity to Hong Kong and Macau, its being time-honoured and with a good fame, the following points are of importance:

(1) The Canton Fair is of Chinese characteristics. It conforms to the standards of international trade and is an effective way for our country to develop trade with the rest of the world.

China is vast in territory and rich in natural resources. There are myriads of commodities available for export. Regular fairs can help concentrate products, business people, market information, etc. And it is precisely in these respects that the Canton Fair provides every convenience to the sellers and purchasers. As a form of trade, the Canton Fair, which conforms to the realities of China's foreign trade, is acceptable to foreign business people. That is why it survives and prospers all these years and becomes a trade fair from which many emerging fairs draw experience.

(2) The Canton Fair has won the attention and support from the state as well as various related departments.

From the very outset, the Canton Fair has been under the loving care of the Party Central Committee and the State Council. Leaders of the Party and the State during their terms of office would come to the Fair for giving inspection and guidance. As the Fair is led by both the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation and the Provincial Government of Guangdong, it is authoritative and influential. As such, it has won the attention of and support from foreign trade enterprises on a nationwide scale - this guarantees the quality and quantity of both participating enterprises and commodities that are vital to the Fair; on the other hand, the Fair is strongly supported in a direct manner by both the Provincial Government of Guangdong and the Municipal Government of Guangzhou. It may be said that the success achieved by the Canton Fair is the direct result of unreserved co-ordination of the related departments of the country as a whole.

(3) Outstanding is the commercial function of the Fair.

Even in the years of Planned Economy, the Canton Fair as a form of trade was, more or less, based on market performance and tinged with the colour of market economy. As the waves of the market economy surged ahead, the commercial function of the Canton Fair began to be strengthened. The Canton Fair has all along been the first choice for all importers and exporters, foreign as well as domestic.

(4) Continued reform for perfection so as to meet the requirements of the developed situation.

To keep up with the development of our national economy and the reform in our foreign trade system, the Canton Fair has consistently carried out reforms aimed at perfection. This finds expression in the organization of the Fair. The Exhibition Hall of the Chinese Export Commodities fair, established in August 1957, was the Permanent Administration of the Canton Fair, an administrative organ on Division Level directly under the Special Commissioner Office of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the Foreign Trade Bureau of the Provincial Government of Guangdong. In order to strengthen the leadership over the Permanent Administration of the Fair and to meet the requirements of the developed Canton Fair, the title was officially changed to the Chinese Export Commodities Fair in 1968. The Reform and Opening-up brought new vitality to the Fair's administrative organ. In 1979, with the approval of the State Council, the Permanent Administration of the Fair was changed into an institution of an enterprise type, which evolved into the Guangzhou Foreign Trade Centre in 1980. In 1988, it further developed into a group of companies and assumed the title of China Foreign Trade Centre (Group). In 2001, it assumed the title of China Foreign Trade Centre. Functioning and managed like an enterprise, the Fair's Administrative Organ was enabled to keep up with the Reform and Opening-up. The Fair's exhibition halls and facilities began to be made use of for commercial purposes. The new policy helped accumulate funds for the Fair's development.

Following the reform in our country's foreign trade system, the ways of organizing the Trading Delegations and exhibition have changed several times.

In 1993, at the 73rd Session, a reform was introduced into the Fair whereby the Trading Delegations were to be organized by different provinces and municipalities. Thus, the decades-long format of organizing the Trading Delegations by the specialized national trading corporations was changed. This move brought the zest and enthusiasm of various provinces, municipalities and departments concerned into full play, and forcefully promoted the export transactions. And on the basis of this modification, again at the 1994 Autumn Fair (the 79th Session), an even more important reform measure was taken, on the strength of which, "the Trading Delegations are to be organized by provinces and municipalities, the exhibition halls, by Chambers of Commerce. While Trading Delegations and Exhibition Halls are to be combined, the exhibitions are to be arranged according to trades". This reform perfected the ways of organizing Trading Delegations and exhibition: the provinces and the municipalities, and the Chambers of Commerce were given different divisions of labour. These two parties worked in close cooperation and in good co-ordination, jointly did a good job of organization, coordination and administration. It quickly brought into full play the enthusiasm of the organizers, sponsors, organizers of Trading Delegations and Exhibition Halls, strengthened the awareness of competition and quality. Particularly, by pushing the six major Chambers of Commerce to the forefront, the overall level of exhibition was heightened, and the quality of the participating enterprises and commodities greatly improved.

Reform has injected new vitality into the Canton Fair, enabling it to sustain the change of times and the progress of history. It will take on completely new looks and breathe with new vigour and vitality. The history of forty-four years of the Chinese Export Commodities is an epitome of our country's development in foreign trade. It not only records the tracks of growth in foreign trade, but also the endeavours of China's foreign trade workers as a whole. Following the development of our national economy and Reform in our foreign trade system, there will appear a new leap in our foreign trade in the near future, and the Canton Fair will face a brighter prospect. It's our firm belief that following the expansion of China's Reform and Opening-up, the Chinese Export Commodities Fair will make even greater contributions to the development of our foreign trade and make a big step forward towards the goal of making itself an international exposition.

Greater Number of Commodities Displayed Product Mix of the Fair Greatly Improved

Starting with 12, 000 kinds of commodities, the Canton Fair has gradually increased its number of commodities available for export from session to session. Now, there are over 100, 000 kinds, representing the famous brands, quality products, new makes, specialties and advanced technology from various parts of the country. Many enterprises come out at the Fair with their novel products, crack items, etc. In attempts to squeeze their way into the world market via the Canton Fair.

The product mix, too, was much improved and gradually became rational. At the outset, the Fair could only export small and trifling articles, and such products as cereals, oils, foodstuffs, native produce, animal by-products, etc. In the wake of the rapid developments in our national economy, with the national industries in particular, the Canton Fair was able to obtain more and more supplies and improved its product mix to a great extent. For example, the ratio of manufactured goods had risen from 20% at the outset of the Fair in 1957 to 85.6% in 1995. And in encouragement of exporting more high-graded products or high value-added products, particularly machinery and electronic products. Special Exhibition Sections have been set up at the Canton Fair. Particular care has been taken of these Sections in respect of exhibition so as to show that machinery, electric products, famous brands, products of high technology, etc. Are more and more felt in importance at the Fair.

Exhibition Space and Grounds Expanded and Enlarged Facilities for Exhibition and Negotiation Improved

After its inauguration, the Canton Fair galloped ahead in its business, and more space was needed for both exhibition and business negotiation. To cope with the situation the Fair had changed its site for three times. The first change took place in 1958 when the Fair was moved from the former Sino-Soviet Friendship Building to a five-storied building at Qiaoguang Road called the Exhibition Hall of the Chinese Export Commodities Fair. The second removal that took place in 1959 was from Qiaoguang Road to the newly-completed Exhibition Hall of the Chinese Export Commodities Fair, a 10-storied building, at the northern side of the Haizhu Square. The exhibition space, was increased to 47, 000 square meters. In the Spring of 1974, the Fair was moved for the third time, from Haizhu Square to the present site in Liuhua Road, and the space was further increased to 110, 000 square meters. There forth, the Fair Complex was expanded or added with more stories several times so that the final exhibition space reached 170, 000 square meters, 9. 4 times the size of the first Fair. Each removal was accompanied by increases in business volumes. The change of Fair site did promote the growth of the Fair's business.

Facilities of the Fair were renovated from time to time and they are now quite advanced. Apart from the facilities of telecommunications, air-conditioning, public security, and fire-fighting, there is the popular use of computers in the management of the Fair, which further raises the work efficiency and service level in an all-round way. Following the business expansion of the Fair, more and more service items were also added. Such services as post and telecom, banking, insurance, transportation, customs, commodity inspection, copying, fax, printing, etc. Have provided great conveniences to the visiting business people. The Canton Fair has put in a large sum of money for the renovation of facilities and for the improvement of the environment so that the function of the exhibition complex is strengthened and the facilities are being modernized.

Business Turnover for Previous Sessions

in million USD

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