Every business activity is based on a simple scheme – it is significant to buy goods in a low price and then to sell them in as a high price as possible. In order to make purchasing goods profitable, entrepreneurs must be constantly looking for new suppliers. Some entrepreneurs search for them at trade shows such as the Canton Fair but most of owners of companies look for them on the Internet. Nowadays, it is the simplest and the most convenient way, however it also has its drawbacks. If we find a supplier from the other side of the world, e.g. a Chinese one, it is not possible to see and check purchased goods before we buy them unless we decide to go and meet our trading partner there. Trade fair is an alternative way of looking for suppliers. Its advantage is undoubtedly the great number of buyers and sellers, as well as the fact we can see some exemplary product of a potential supplier and talk with them. The biggest and the most popular trade fair in China, that is the topic of the following article, is the Canton Fair.
What is the Canton Fair?
The Canton Fair (oficially the China Import and Export Fair), as we have already mentioned, is the biggest trade fair in China. They offer the widest range and the biggest number of exhibitors. The trade fair in Canton is organized by the China Foreign Trade Centre, under the patronage of the Ministry of Commerce and the authorities of Guangdong province. It has been organized since 1957, orginally once a year and beginning from 2002 – twice a year – in the spring and in the autumn. Due to a huge popularity, it was decided to organise two editions of the fair every year. At every edition, different types of goods are exhibited. In 2007, the name of the event was changed into the current one (the previous name was the China Export Commodities Fair). The 103th edition of the Canton Fair (organized in 2008) was the last one that took place simultaneously in two locations – in the exhibition site in Liuhua and in the another site, in Pazhou. The event was fully relocated to Pazhou in the autumn 2008. Each edition of the fair was then divided into three parts (instead of two) in order to make space for all exhibitors and visitors in the new exhibition site.
Where exactly do the Canton Fair take place?
As it has been mentioned, this trade event is held in the exhibiton site in Pazhou.
The site is divided into 3 sectors (called A, B and C). In each sector, there are a dozen of exhibition halls located in 4 floors, where different types of goods are exhibited. In order to move between the particular halls in a faster way, some modern travelators, many lifts, as well as escalators have been installed. All 3 sectors are connected with a one huge exhibition hall that serves as a communication area. It is also a good place to rest, because in this part there are many restaurants and bars. If one wants to move from the sector A to the sector B, it is possible to use some electric mini-cars.
The exact address of Pazhou is: 382 Yuejiang Middle Rd, Haizhu Qu, Guangzhou Shi, Guangdong Sheng, China.
Getting to the Canton Fair is quite simple, because there are some direct bus connections between Baiyun International Airport and Pazhou exhibition site. Some similar connections are also available from the neighbouring cities – Shenzhen and Hong Kong. From Canton, the most convenient way to reach the Canton Fair is to go there by metro (line number 8). Its station is located right up close to the exhibition hall.
If it comes to accommodation, we advise to book a hotel located close to Pazhou not to waste much time getting the exhibition hall. It is advised to book a hotel room beforehand, because it can be problematic at short notice.
How to register your participation at the Canton Fair?
In order to register your participation at the event, it is advised to do it via the Internet to avoid long queues. The simplest way is to register by so-called IC Card Online Pre-application on http://invitation.cantonfair.org.cn/Home/Index. In order to do that, we have to prepare the following things:
- A passport,
- a picture for personal documents,
- a company card.
The whole process of registration looks in a following way.
The admission ticket is so-called Entry Badge. It is worth to remember that the first admission is free. When one makes registration via the Internet, the ticket can be collected directly during the event or in 32 hotels that cooperate with the Canton Fair. These are:
- Asia International Hotel
- Baiyun Hotel
- Chateau Star River Hotel
- Chimelong Hotel
- China Hotel By Marriott Guangzhou
- China Mayors Plaza
- Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre
- Dong Fang Hotel
- Foshan Hotel
- Four Points by Sheraton Dongpu-Guangzhou
- Garden Hotel
- Grand International Hotel
- Guangdong Victory Hotel
- Guangzhou Marriott Hotel Tianhe
- Guangzhou Ocean Hotel
- Holiday Inn Guangzhou Shifu
- Hotel Landmark Canton
- InterContinental Foshan
- Jianguo Hotel Guangzhou
- Panyu Hotel
- Phoenix Hotel Guangzhou
- Pullman Baiyun Airport Hotel
- Ramada Pearl Hotel Guangzhou
- Ramada Plaza Guangzhou
- Regal Palace Hotel
- Rosedale Hotel Guangzhou
- Shangri-La Hotel Guangzhou
- Soluxe Hotel Guangzhou
- Star Hotel
- The Royal Mediterranean Hotel
- The Westin Guangzhou
- The Westin Pazhou
The Canton Fair in numbers
Based on data from (http://www.cantonfair.org.cn/html/cantonfair/en/about/2012-09/139.shtml), the first event (organized in 1957) gathered 1223 visitors who purchased goods of the total value of $18 million. Ever since, the number of visitors had been systematically growing until spring 2012 when the biggest number of visitors (almost 210 000) was reported. The biggest sales ($38 230 million) were reported in spring 2008. The exhibiton space of the last spring edition of the event was 1 180 000 m2. There were 60 219 exhibiton stands, and the total value of purchased goods was $30 million. Number of visitors was 196 490, and number of exhibitors amounted to 24 718.
How to make some contacts at the Canton Fair?
Some enterpreneurs come to this fair in order to look for cheaper materials, raw materials and other products. The second part of enterpreneurs is attracted by some opportunities to export their products. No matter in what group we are, the most important thing is to take advantage of the visit at the Canton Fair as much as possible. In the exhibiton halls of the particular sectors there are a few hundred stands. There are not as many service companies as the trading ones. When one finds an interesting stand, they can talk with its owner (usually with some delegated employee).
Every person who is interested in a particular stand is welcomed. The language that is commonly used at the Canton Fair is English. Although most of Chinese participants do not speak English fluently, they are usually able to communicate with other people. The conversations are usually simple and definitive. Participants treat them as a way to make some new business contacts, and they usually exchange business cards. The situation when business activities are arranged face to face is better perceived in China, and a company of an owner who comes to China themselves is perceived as a serious one. It is significant to ask for an exhibition catalogue including prices of products, as well as to arrange a meeting in a factory.
A lot of Chinese companies have CD versions of their catalogues due to the number of them they have to bring to the Fair. If such a version is not provided, it is worth to take a photo of the goods we are interested in. It often happens to visitors to be asked for taking a picture together in order to make further recognition of a visitor easier to the Chinese enterpreneur. After the event, it is worth to arrange a few meetings in the factories that we paid attention to during the Fair. It allows to check the production conditions and manufacturing capacity. The way how a production hall and offices look like can ensure us that the company is a reliable one.
In our opinion, it is worth to visit the Canton Fair at least once, especially if one exports their products directly from China. It is a good place to make some business contacts. However, it is necessary to be careful while placing an order. There are more and more frauds reported year by year. That is why, if we are interested in purchasing some goods, it is crucial to check if our potential business partner is reliable.