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Influence of Canton Fair expands as reform, opening up deepens

The Canton Fair is held every six months on the island of Pazhou in Guangzhou.


 

The Canton Fair is a communication channel between China and the world. Its expansion coincides with the various achievements of reform and opening up in Guangdong Province.


All changes of the fair from the strategic economic decisions that the province has made in different periods. The provincial scale of international trade rose from $1.6 billion to $52.5 billion between 1978 and 1991, an annual growth of 30.8 percent, due to the deepening reform of the economic system. This promoted international trade across the country that China’s foreign trade volume annually grew by 15.58 percent from $20.6 billion to $135.6 billion in the same period. Meanwhile, the annual transaction volume at the Canton Fair was $4.33 billion in 1978 and the figure surged to $12.85 billion in 1991, so the fair was considered a barometer of China’s trade ties with other countries.


The transaction volume of the fair went through a downturn in the 2008 global financial crisis. It reacted to the new economic and technological circumstances by carrying out a “fair plus internet” plan and launched a test run of  an online fair. The transaction volume started to rebound in 2016 with a growth of 1.65 percent and it continued to improve, increasing by about 7.7 percent to hit $60.3 billion last year.


Chinese exhibitors mainly sold primary products at the fair in the early years, whereas the export of manufactured products recently dominated the event’s business deals. For example, the transaction volume of power machinery and electric power products totaled $54 million in the 1978 spring session whereas the figure exceeded $430 million in the 1999 autumn session, thus being included in the first export category. The transaction volume of power machinery and electric power products accounted for 52.75 percent of that of the first export category at the 2017 autumn session. The Canton Fair has gradually become a renowned exhibition thanks to the growth of Chinese enterprise and the fair’s support to them.


Guangdong Province needs to promote reform and opening up in a profound way to nurture new competitive advantages and construct a strong country in international trade. The innovation of the Canton Fair can be accessed by promoting an open economic pattern across the province.


First, the fair needs to understand the development law of the exhibition sector by drawing upon global experience. In this way, it can be more professional and market oriented. Also, the level of internationalization and digitization can be upgraded. A comprehensive global system for online business is necessary to optimize the structure of international trade and develop new competitiveness in the global market.


Furthermore, the fair should improve its quality of service and build a database of customer information, making information sharing a reality. Therefore, exhibiting companies can achieve common benefits and make progress together. Finally, attention should be paid to exploring new markets in the countries participating in the Belt and Road. In this case, companies can hold cooperative exhibitions, thus promoting development of an open economy and better utilizing markets and resources.

 

(edited by MA YUHONG)


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