China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, is held biannually in Guangzhou every spring and autumn. The exhibition, which has been held every year since 1957, is the largest of its kind in China in terms of scale, variety, distribution of overseas buyers and business turnover.
Deals at Guangzhou trade fair down 17.5pc
The worsening global economy has battered the mainland's biggest trade show, with Guangzhou's China Import and Export Fair facing some of its worst declines in signed deals at the autumn session since 1995.
Fair spokesman Mu Xinhai said at the closing press conference yesterday that by Wednesday, 174,562 buyers from 212 countries signed contracts worth US$31.5 billion at the fair, a drop in contract value of close to 17.5 per cent compared to the overall spring session.
Asked to assess the impact of shrinking overseas markets on the event also known as the Canton Fair, Mr Mu sidestepped the question, saying the final results would take a few more days to compile and the big operational changes in the fair this year made comparisons more difficult. For the first time, the fair was held over 15 days, rather than 12, at the new Pazhou Complex.
The trade show's disappointing interim results came despite a 31 per cent expansion in display area and 19 per cent more exhibitors compared to the spring session. With yesterday's results still to be tallied, the number of buyers was down by 9 per cent.
A Ministry of Commerce survey of fair exhibitors said 72.4 per cent of respondents said the worst impact of the economic downturn was cuts in overseas orders, and 95.2 per cent said their orders were smaller.
The ministry said labour-intensive industries such as textiles, shoes, toys and food were the worst-hit so far and might have a more painful time next year.
Mr Mu repeatedly said given the global financial crisis' impact on the economy, the ministry and the exhibitors thought the results were better than expected.
But Wang Hui, a Shanghai food exporter, said: 'Based on our 20 years of attending the fair, this is the worst.'