Fee discount to lure exhibitors to Canton Fair
Pinched by the world's economic woes, the country's oldest and largest trade show, the biannual Canton Fair, is offering to cut fees for the first time to entice exhibitors.
The Ministry of Commerce, which fears the mainland's export slump will shrink the budgets of exhibitors and reduce the number of visitors to the coming 105th China Import and Export Fair, will refund some exhibitor fees, according to the ministry's website yesterday.
The ministry did not specify the amount of the refund, but sources close to the organiser said the amount was about 2,000 yuan (HK$2,269) per exhibitor.
According to the ministry, Vice-Minister Zhong Shan vowed to increase the number of buyers and exhibitors and support exports during the Canton Fair in Guangzhou in April.
The fee discount was unprecedented in the fair's 52-year history, underscoring the severity of the impact of the global downturn on Chinese-made exports, economists said.
The registration date for the exhibitors of textiles, clothing, shoes and office automation products was extended by about two months to March 5, according to the Canton Fair website.
Economists suspected the move was related to the closure of suppliers in these labour-intensive industries.
Last year's two fairs generated about US$70 billion in export orders, or 5 per cent of total exports in the first 11 months of last year.
November's exports contracted 2.2 per cent from a year ago, the first decline in seven years.
The country is due to reveal the full-year set of trade figures as early as today.
The fee concession was confined to mainland exporters, which account for 98 per cent of exhibitors.
However, selected importers from Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan do not qualify for the fee incentive.
The Canton Fair, a barometer of overseas appetite for Chinese-made exports from toys, clothes, food and electronics to heavy-duty machinery, saw fewer visitors last year, with attendance declining 7.48 per cent to about 367,000.
Shanshan Group, a Ningbo-based garment exporter, said it would skip April's fair because the company had a smaller budget, even though it had attended for the past six years.
Susan Zhu, an assistant to the president of the group's international trade department, said yesterday that the group spent 500,000 yuan on the fairs last year but went home with lacklustre orders.
'It's an expensive event for us. We spent 500,000 yuan on renting the booths, hotel accommodation, hiring people, decorating the booths and travel. However, the event did not turn out to be as good as we had expected.'
Hong Kong snack firm Edo Trading, which took part as an importer at the fair, has yet to decide whether to return in April, according to marketing manager Victor Fung.
Nation's export slump likely to reduce the number of visitors
Fee cut first in history of trade fair, which has been running, in years: 52