Foreign companies attending the ongoing Canton Fair, China's largest trade fair, said the ever-growing and more open Chinese market is not to be overlooked.
Rapid growth, better intellectual property protection, and an improving business environment were cited as reasons for continued optimism by foreign attendees.
Held every spring and autumn in southern China's Guangdong province, the China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, is seen as a barometer of China's foreign trade. Imports are under the spotlight this year as the country seeks to open its domestic market wider.
The fair's imports exhibition area has attracted 636 companies, 19 more than the previous session, from 34 countries and regions to exhibit at around 1,000 booths.
Among the busy exhibitors was Exotica Fresheners Co, an America-based air freshener maker that has used the fair to promote its products to regions including the Middle East and Africa. The company is now eyeing entry into China.
"The Chinese market is growing very big, especially for import products. They're more open to new products, and it's a great market to get into," said Danny Elassir, export director of Exotica.
Steven Yu, president of OFC, a global licensee of US firm Caterpillar Inc, said confidence about the Chinese market prompted it to book a place at the upcoming China International Import Expo.
"The expo is very popular (among exhibitors). Many large exhibition booths were already booked when we tried to make a reservation," Yu said.
According to the General Administration of Customs, China's foreign trade rose 9.9 percent year-on-year to 22.28 trillion yuan ($3.2 trillion) from January to September.
Exports increased 6.5 percent during the period to 11.86 trillion yuan, while imports grew 14.1 percent to 10.42 trillion yuan, indicating stable foreign trade with an improved trade structure.
The increasing imports are expanding a window of opportunities for many foreign firms, including Ewbank Products Ltd, a British producer of carpet sweepers.
Julian Baseley, chairman of Ewbank, said booming e-commerce has quickly raised the contribution of the Chinese market to the company's global sales.
"The United States is our biggest market, but China is growing. And because of the size of the Chinese market, once we get to fully develop here, I think it could become the biggest market in the world," Baseley said.