In the spring of 1957, the Chinese Government inaugurated an export commodity fair in Guangzhou, the port which formed the starting point for the Marine Silk Road and possesses a millennium long tradition of trade by sea. Premier Zhou Enlai decided its name as "Canton Fair " for short.
With a history of over fifty years the Canton Fair (Chinese Import and Export Commodity Fair Guangzhou) is a channel for external exchanges, providing a valuable bridge between China and the world. It is China’s largest, oldest and hishest-level trade fair, boasting the most comprehensive variety of exhibits, the largest attendance, and the most lucrative business turnover. Preserving its traditions, the Fair is a comprehensive and multi-functional event of international importance. It is known as the most vital trade fair in China.
The inaugural Canton Fair covered 18,000 square meters with 1223 purchasers from 19 countries and regions. The value of their trade totaled $17.54 million. The fair was nourished by three historic opportunities— namely, the founding of the New China in 1949, the reform and opening-up since 1978, and China’s admission into the WTO. Canton Fair has thus mushroomed into being the biggest trade fair in the world, with an exhibition space covering 1.13 million square meters. Each fair handles $35 billion worth of trade value and attracts more than 200,000 purchasers from 212 countries and regions.
Showcasing “Made-in-China” Products
The trade volume of the two fairs each year was equivalent to one quarter of the total export volume of the whole country. As a result, the fair has become renowned as a barometer and a weathervane for China’s foreign trade.
The fair is also renowned as a business incubator for the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which have an eye to the international market. Tens of thousands of SMEs won their first trade windfall through the fair, making good-quality Chinese products known to the world.
Starting with the 101st Canton Fair in 2002, the event has staged an import exhibition zone so as to strike a balance between imports and exports. To date, the total exhibition space has reached 20,000 square meters, attracting more than 500 foreign companies from over 40 countries and regions, where they can seek potential business opportunities within the huge Chinese market.
For over half a century, the mission of the fair has transcended from “breaking the blockade, accumulating more foreign exchanges to a big platform for Sino-foreign economic and trade communications during the age of economic globalization. Canton Fair has become the perfect manifestation of the splendid business culture of Guangdong Province in the new century.