China’s largest trade fair opened its 117th session in Guangdong Province yesterday, with exhibitors expressing concern about tough export prospects.
The biannual China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, is seen as a barometer of China’s exports. With demand slowing and the appreciation of the yuan, worries prevail that this year’s foreign trade prospects might be dim.
At the fair’s exhibition center in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, fewer executives showed up than in previous years. Many of them said they face sluggish sales in foreign markets.
Gao Yuanjia, general manager of Jiangsu Chunlan Air-conditioner Import and Export Co, said he expects transactions to slacken due to sluggish foreign economies, particularly Europe, the company’s traditional market.
An executive with China’s leading home appliance maker, Midea Group, said weak demand in Europe coupled with the falling euro means tough trade prospects for the company.
"Some of our clients demanded a discount of 15 percent," he said.
China yesterday announced 7 percent economic growth in the first quarter. Exports fell 15 percent year on year in March.
Vice Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan yesterday warned that China’s trade outlook might be worse than expected.
"Foreign trade this year may be complicated and tough," Zhong said at the fair.
Xu Yufeng, Asia and Middle East vice marketing director of Trina Solar, said the falling euro, trade barriers in emerging countries and recent regional conflicts have greatly affected China’s exports.
Despite the difficult conditions, Chinese exporters have been trying to increase sales by improving quality and exploring new markets.
At the fair yesterday, exhibitors displayed new products to boost business.
Huang Dawen, deputy general manager of China’s leading TV maker Changhong Group, said his company is trying to set up factories overseas to offset disadvantages caused by floating exchange rates.
"We will make more efforts in product improvement and overseas market development to enhance our competitiveness," Huang said.
The fair's spokesman Liu Jianjun said companies with strong brands and advanced technology are taking a bigger share, while small firms that lack core technologies are losing customers.