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Expo fostering Bay Area, opening-up

By ZHENG CAIXIONG in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated:2021-10-18


Visitors view a mountain bike on display during the first day of the 130th session of the China Import and Export Fair in Guangzhou on Oct 15, 2021. [Photo by Zheng Erqi/China Daily]

Canton Fair evolves from trade event to a facilitator of services and tech as well

As the 130th session of the China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, opened in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, on Friday, experts quickly noted the 65-year-old event's transformation.

Its offline-and-online feature this time, they said, signifies its growing significance and expanding reach, besides showcasing its potential to evolve from a trade-only platform for goods to a facilitator of trade in services and technologies, a key contributor to the deepening of reform and opening-up, and a catalyst for regional development.

Mao Yanhua, a professor with Guangzhou-based Sun Yatsen University, said the fair has played an important role in promoting China's foreign trade in the previous decades. From now on, however, it will also help accelerate the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and boost cooperation and exchanges among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.

Besides, the fair will play an increasingly important role to further promote international trade, global cooperation and advance China's reform and opening-up.

So, the Canton Fair should be further upgraded to meet the demand to adapt it to the new situation of global trade, experts said.

"The fair should further raise its innovative and service capacity and upgrade its technologies to better serve the country's reform and opening-up," Mao said.

He urged the fair's organizers to continue to hold the biannual event both online and offline and integrate commodities exhibitions and forums in the years to come.

Agreed Dong Xiaolin, former president and professor of the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. He said the fair should become a platform not only for commodity trade but information and technology, helping participant companies further understand the world trade and market trends, improve industrial structures, undertake digital transformation and upgrade.

Xie Baojian, a professor with Jinan University, concurred, saying the fair should help Guangzhou build itself into an international consumption city in the coming years while helping more companies explore the global markets.

He underlined the significance of the fair's venue being in Guangzhou, which is considered China's window on reform and opening-up, a major production base, one of the country's major transportation hubs, and hence known as a millennium commercial capital.

Yuan Kelun, deputy general manager of Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Import and Export Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holdings Ltd, said the company has successfully developed a market for Chinese patented medicine in Southeast Asia, the Americas, Africa, Europe and Oceania using the Canton Fair as a platform.

This was possible because Guangzhou Pharmaceutical has been participating in the fair for more than 20 years by now, he said.

The parent company figures among China's largest production bases of Chinese patented medicine, and has accelerated the pace of their internationalization through the Canton Fair, he said.

"Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holdings mainly demonstrates and promotes its brand names and high-quality products in this fall event," he said.

Lu Chunping, a representative of Zhujiang Brewery Co Ltd, said the company has been able to leverage its participation in the fair for 15 years to sell its products to customers in the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Kiribati and 40 other nations and regions.

Zhujiang Brewery will display its high-quality, award-winning products at the fair, and is aiming to attract more buyers from around the world this fall, Lu said.

"The fair has played an important role in helping Chinese companies to expand cooperation and exchanges with overseas players and increase their global footprint over the decades."

About 8,000 domestic and foreign companies are displaying their latest technologies and products in an exhibition area of more than 400,000 square meters. The area consists of 51 exhibition zones. And an additional 26,000 firms will exhibit their technologies, goods and services online, to seek Sino-foreign cooperation and exchanges and increase their presence in the world markets during the fair.

The main event is facilitating several sub-forums such as the Pearl River International Trade Forum, a State-level event, which is being held for the first time to help further expand the influence of the Canton Fair.

The five-day event remains the world's largest physical exhibition and fair in the COVID era, its organizers said. It will close on Tuesday.

China has sold more than $1.4 trillion worth of products abroad during the fair over the decades. Since 2005, the Canton Fair has been notching up a trading volume of more than $30 billion per session on average.

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