The 116th (autumn) session of the Canton Fair, a barometer of China's exports, kicked off at a time when China is struggling to shore up its foreign trade. Squeezed by weak external demand and rising domestic labor costs, the country's foreign trade growth in the first three quarters slowed to 3.3 percent year-on-year, falling short of the annual target of 7.5 percent.
Yet Chinese exporters of mechanical and electrical products, which make up the bulk of the country's exports, remain confident. Their export maps now include more emerging markets outside the traditional consumer giants like Europe and the United States.
Chinese machinery, the best example of the country's manufacturing prowess, is popular in the developing world, including Africa and Latin America. Some industries, like photovoltaic technology, have also begun to flex their technical muscles overseas after years of investment in research.
Syed Flaz Hussain, a buyer from India, expressed interest in Chinese-made solar panels. Electricity prices are high in India, so clean energy would be popular there, especially in the countryside, he said.
Buyer attendance speaks of similar enthusiasm. Data on the first two days of the fair showed a continuous rise in the number of buyers from countries such as India, Malaysia and Russia compared with the same sessions during the past two years. In particular, African buyers in the two-day period increased from over 4,000 two years ago to 6,636, while buyers from the United States and some European countries continued to decline.
Western countries remain strong purchasers though, exhibitors said, as their economies slowly recover. And for Chinese consumer goods, price competitiveness has been strengthened in markets where consumers have been tightening their belts.