The venue for the 128th China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province Photo: Chi Jingyi/GT
The 128th China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, will be held from Thursday to October 24, and is expected to attract about 26,000 participants from all over the world, according to the organizing committee. Analysts said that China's foreign trade in the fourth quarter will continue to grow, based on the scale of the fair.
It is the second time that the Canton Fair has moved online this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. An employee of the organizing committee told the Global Times that last year, the exhibition halls were full of products and people. This year, it's virtual, and staff have to work day and night to keep up with the schedules of foreign participants.
There are more than 60,000 online booths offering 2.358 million products, of which 691,500 are making their debuts. The scale is close to the June session, the first online Canton Fair due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Xu Bing, spokesperson of the Canton Fair and deputy director-general of the China Foreign Trade Center, told the press on Wednesday.
It is expected that buyers from more than 210 countries and regions will attend the latest session, according to Xu.
With new technologies, exhibitors and buyers can register in just three minutes, and start negotiations and procurement in 10 minutes. Panorama, 3D, virtual reality and other cutting-edge technologies are used in the virtual exhibition halls and livestreaming will enhance the experience of the buyers, a technician of Tencent told the Global Times on Wednesday. The company provides technical support for the online Canton Fair.
"In addition, robots will answer regular questions, which will reduce the need for human staff by 70 percent. Electronic business cards have been launched this time, allowing both parties in deals to keep in touch after the event. The Canton Fair has become a huge online trading platform," said the technician.
New technologies ease the process of participating in the Canton Fair, attracting more enterprises.
Based on the scale of the fair, a barometer of China's foreign trade, the fourth-quarter trade figures will continue to grow, Hu Qimu, a senior fellow at the Sinosteel Economic Research Institute, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"With no clear bailout plan in the US, UK, or the eurozone in the fourth quarter, major European economies and the US are expected to see a wave of layoffs, making it impossible to organize production effectively. It will on the one hand affect China's export demand, but on the other hand, some of China's traditional industries will get more orders, as production in the rest of the world hasn't truly recovered. Other countries will have to rely on China's manufacturing," Hu added.
The Canton Fair is held in Guangzhou, one of the cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), and analysts said there will be synergy between the Canton Fair and the GBA.
The GBA is the closest region in China to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is currently China's largest trading partner. The GBA can use the Canton Fair as a link to China's largest export market, and get support from manufacturers and traders nationwide, said Hu.
The Canton Fair will also help the "dual circulation" of foreign trade and domestic consumption, apart from its traditional export function. It is also a huge platform for export-oriented enterprises to find domestic buyers.
"This year's global economic development has experienced the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and geopolitical pressure, and China's economic development has encountered more external uncertainties. China's future development will be based on the concept of 'dual circulation'," Deng Yu, senior research fellow of the Atlantis Financial Research Institute, told the Global Times.