Traders want help to tap new markets
Domestic traders at the Canton Fair are calling for preferential policies from the central government to help them explore new export markets in Latin America and Africa.
Despite continuing jitters over the euro-zone debt crisis and the pace of economic recovery in the US, the 20,000 square metres of the China Import and Export Fair - which has been held each spring and autumn in Guangzhou since 1957 - was packed with international visitors on opening day yesterday at the Pazhou Exhibition Centre.
A bellwether of trade, the show runs across three weeks. This week, it centres on home appliances, electronic goods, construction materials and machinery, switching to gifts and home decoration next week, with garments, shoes and food the theme for the final week.
Many domestic traders who traditionally target European and US buyers are now turning to emerging markets, where they see opportunity but also have limited resources to develop potential customers.
Yu Wenjun, marketing director of Guangdong Changhong Electronics, a well-known television manufacturer, said its foreign trade grew 32 per cent in the first quarter because of the fast-growing central African and Latin American markets. 'For the first time ever, China's smart television is on a level playing field with international competitors, due to an open-source Android system,' Yu said.
He said local home appliance manufacturers wanted preferential policies from the central government, just as their South Korean counterparts got from Seoul.
'Changhong is investing 50 million yuan (HK$61.26 million) in research and development every year and this is solely funded by our company. But the amount is nowhere near enough when competing with Korean companies which get strong R&D support from their government,' Yu said.
It was a similar story for small and medium-sized enterprises, which said they had limited resources to cultivate new business.
Li Lilin, international sales representative for Guangzhou-based SOH Electronics, which specialises in producing professional DJ mixers, said orders from the European market were down by 20 to 30 per cent in 2011. 'We are getting orders from South American countries such as Argentina but we are not very optimistic, because it's hard to break into these new markets,' Li said.
'I wish our government could help more companies like us visit South American firms - like the kind of support the Europeans get from their governments.'
Mainland exports rose this much last month from a year ago•Imports were up 5.3 per cent