Canton Fair is looking to emerging nations
Commerce vice-minister Zhong Shan expects a record-breaking number of buyers and exhibitors at the Canton Fair, the mainland's largest trade show.
But he warned of 'more challenging and complicated' prospects for global trade this year.
The 111th session of the twice-a-year China Import and Export Fair - as it is officially known - will be held in Guangzhou from April 15 to May 5.
It aims to attract more buyers from developing countries as the mainland's two largest markets, the European Union and the United States, slip into economic turmoil. Zhong said yesterday in Hong Kong this year's global trade would be very tough and complicated as the European debt crisis was 'deepening'.
'Global demand will be sluggish, competition will intensify and protectionism will arise,' he said.
'This will have an immense negative impact on the world and bring uncertainty to developing markets.'
However, he expected that fast-growing demand in developing markets would make up some of the weakened demand in developed regions. Canton Fair, which started in 1957, is the most established trade show on the mainland and serves as an indicator for the nation's exports.
Economists from HSBC, Daiwa Capital Markets and UBS said the euro-zone debt crisis and wobbly US consumer demand would drag down China's exports into single-digit growth in the first quarter of this year.
The fair's autumn session last October/November drew a record of 209,175 buyers, 1 per cent higher than the spring session in April/May, and breaking deals worth US$37.9 billion, 3 per cent above the spring session.
More buyers from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Africa, Russia and Latin America are due to attend.
Asian buyers accounted for 45 per cent of the total at the autumn session. Mainland exports last year to Asean leapt 23.1 per cent, total trade with South Africa surged 76.7 per cent and shipments to Brazil gained 34.5 per cent.