Despite a weak export market, China's trade performance appeared to stabilise during the spring session of the Canton Fair, which finished yesterday.
Speaking at the closing press conference, Liu Jianjun, the fair's spokesman and deputy director general of the China Foreign Trade Centre, said the 113th session of the fair, officially known as the China Import and Export Fair, attracted nearly 203,000 visitors from 211 countries and jurisdictions.
"This represents a 7 per cent rise from the autumn fair in October but a decrease of 3.8 per cent compared with the same session last year," Liu said. "Total deals amounted to US$35.54 billion, representing an increase of 8.8 per cent from last October's session and a slight decrease of 1.4 per cent from the last spring fair."
Deals at the October fair were worth US$32.7 billion, the lowest total since 2010.
While the improvement indicated a strengthening global economy, the foundations of the rally remained rocky, Liu said.
"The US economy is recovering, and we are seeing the European debt crisis come under control," he said. "Together with Japan's economic stimulus measures and our own policies to strengthen trade last year, we have seen a slight improvement.
"We are glad to see that visitors exceeded 200,000. This is basically in line with our initial prediction, before the fair opened in April, that we would stabilise the downward trend."
Meanwhile, buyers remained wary of placing long-term orders beyond six months, Liu said, which he attributed to surging commodity prices and "fluctuating currency values in China". Short-term orders accounted for 49 per cent of all deals, mid-term orders ranging from three to six months took up 35 per cent, while longer-term orders made up 16 per cent.
Notably, Japanese attendance at the fair rose by 38 per cent compared with October.
"Visitors who were deterred by the Diaoyu Islands incident last year are returning to the fair," Liu said, referring to an ongoing territorial dispute in the East China Sea that in August sparked Chinese boycotts of Japanese products. Japan refers to the islands as the Senkakus.
Liu also noted that this was the first time that more than 10,000 Indian traders attended the fair. However, the number of Hong Kong visitors dropped by 5 per cent from October.
The event, which started in 1957, is China's oldest trade fair. It is regarded as a gauge of the global economy and a barometer of China's trade performance.