Caixin
Oct 14, 2021 04:51 AM
ECONOMY

China’s Canton Fair Invites Domestic Buyers for First Time

Guangzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center.
Guangzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center.

What’s new: The Canton Fair, China’s biggest twice-yearly trade exposition, will be open for the first time to eligible domestic buyers as the country’s pandemic control measures prevent foreign buyers from attending in person.

The China Import and Export Fair, held every spring and fall in the southern city Guangzhou which was once known in English as Canton, is widely seen as a barometer of China’s foreign trade. Normally, the fair serves as a venue for domestic companies to showcase their products to foreign buyers.

This year’s fall fair, featuring a theme echoing China’s “dual circulation” strategy for building up the domestic consumer economy, has sent invitations for the first time to domestic purchasers, including foreign companies operating in China, Chu Shijia, vice president and secretary general of the Canton Fair, said Wednesday at a press conference.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the previous three fairs were held online only. This fall expo will take place both online and physically. Before the pandemic, the fair usually attracted more than 200,000 buyers from all over the world.

The organizer has not disclosed how many foreign buyers have registered. Foreign buyers will mainly attend online, Chu said.

The background: As the investment- and export-driven economic model of the past four decades runs out of steam, China is shifting to a new economic development strategy relying less on global integration and more on expanding domestic commerce, or so-called dual circulation.

As part of the transition to domestic consumption, the State Council, China’s cabinet, issued guidelines in June 2020 to help exporters sell goods into the domestic market.

But it is not easy for exporters to shift gears quickly as they struggle to overcome a mountain of problems from supply-side issues such as product development, distribution and taxation, to clearing demand-side hurdles that crimp consumption, navigating the complexities of e-commerce, and keeping up with rapidly changing shopping habits and consumer tastes.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (hello@caixin.com)

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