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Manufactures grapple to secure overseas orders

Updated: 2012-04-16 09:12


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GUANGZHOU -- A record number of 1.11 million overseas buyers have been invited to the 111th Canton Fair, which openned Sunday in Guangzhou, in a bid to spur the sluggish trade growth since January, organizers said.

The spring session of the Canton Fair, China's largest trade fair, is considered to be a good opportunity for the country's foreign trade enterprises to boost exports.

This is especially important when China's foreign trade volume only increased 7.3 percent year-on-year in the first quarter to reach $859.37 billion, which marked the slowest growth since the fourth quarter of 2009, according to data released by the the General Administration of Customs (GAC) early this week.

Lu Wenbin, a trader with the Ningbo Newhicon Electrical Appliance Co, who has ten years of experience in exhibiting at the fair, said what he worried about was the number of orders he would get at the fair.

"We will try our best to keep our market share," Lu said.

Opening on the theme of "new starting point, new opportunities, new challenges," the trade session will strive to help stabilize the country's foreign trade growth rate at 10 percent, said Deputy Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan.

It is even more disturbing when the export-oriented provinces in China, including Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, have reported a slow growth rate of between 3 percent and 5 percent during the first quarter of the year, according to GAC.

Managers of some Chinese enterprises at the fair agreed that the uncertainty of the world economy, the sluggish recovery of the international market, increasing cost and worsening trade frictions have contributed to the harsh foreign trade situation. Facing great pressures, many Chinese companies have resorted to various measures to promote exports such as targeting relatively remote foreign markets or upgrading the quality of the products.

As a refrigerator exporter largely depending on the US Market, Ningbo Newhicon is facing the most arduous situation ever.

"As external demand wanes from the United States and the European Union, China's major trade partners, we have to turn to some emerging markets such as Brazil but were frustrated by their protectionism, "said Lu.

Besides the "BRICs" and the Southeast Asia market, Guangdong Overland Ceramics Co has started to explore some formerly ignored markets such as Tunisia, Libya and Chile, said Huang Jiacai, international marketing vice-general manager of the company.

The newly-developed markets have contributed a lot to his company's export, Huang said.

Guangdong Chigo Air-conditioning Co has attracted overseas buyers through technical upgrading.

The air-conditioner maker has developed a new type of intelligent product "with splendid appearance design and convenient function" which are welcomed by young foreign customers as it can be controlled in a long-range distance via PC or smartphones.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has introduced a string of measures, including stabilizing the export tax rebate policy, helping solve financing difficulties of small and medium-sized enterprises and expanding the coverage of policy-based export credit insuarance, to maintain stable foreign trade growth, said Zhang Xialing, Deputy Director General of Foreign Trade Department of Ministry of Commerce at a forum of the fair.

Under such complex circumstances, the trade fair has adopted a series of new measures to attract overseas buyers, such as offering free admission to new buyers and attracting buyers via social networking websites.

More than 200,000 buyers are expected to attend this year's spring session, Liu Jianjun, spokesman for the fair said at a press conference Saturday.

Canton Fair is China's largest trade fair and a key indicator of the country's trade and economic development. The fair has been held every spring and autumn in Guangzhou since 1957.