Trade fair delegates gauge Euro export prospects
2012-April-23 Source: China View website
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With Europe's financial crisis continuing to hit hard, delegates at China's largest trade fair have been reappraising their prospects for doing business with the continent.

The 111th Canton Fair, which opened last Sunday in the southern city of Guangzhou, is considered a good opportunity for the country's foreign trade enterprises to boost exports.

More than 200,000 buyers are expected to attend the spring session before it closes on May 5. According to official statistics, 92,989 traders attended the fair during its first three days, 15,519 of them from Europe.

Though the world economy is recovering and has not yet entered a stable period of growth after the debt crisis took hold, organizers are still cautiously optimistic about trade cooperation between China and the European Union (EU), said Liu Jianjun, the Canton Fair's spokesman.

Despite Europe's woes, the EU remained China's largest trading partner in the first quarter of 2012, but China-EU bilateral trade growth slowed to 2.6 percent year on year to reach 126.87 billion U.S. dollars.

Meanwhile, China's trade with the United States -- its second-largest trading partner -- increased 9.3 percent year on year to 106.77 billion U.S. dollars, according to customs data issued earlier this month.

Many Chinese enterprises have seen significant decreases in orders from EU companies.

"Disappointed by fading demand from Europe, we have turned to emerging markets like South America," said Cao Yunhui, exports manager of Fuxin Electronic Technology Co. Ltd., a wine cooler exhibitor at the Canton Fair.

Export-orientated companies' inclination to switch focus from Europe to elsewhere was also aided by other factors in regulation and expectations, as some pointed out.

Unlike buyers form Asia or Middle East countries, European customers highlight high standards of product quality and require various certifications of exporters, which are too expensive for small and mid-sized enterprises to obtain, said a member of sales staff with a wire rope company.

However, some Chinese enterprises have found opportunities in rigid EU demand.

"Twenty percent of our products were supplied for the EU market. Though the reducing investment in construction projects led to decreased demand for power cables, orders for electrical wires for household appliances from overseas markets remain stable," said Gao Ji'en, sales manager of Pengsheng Industrial Development Co. Ltd., a company manufacturing wires and cables.

For world-renowned enterprises, providing high-end products catering to the EU market is the key to stabilizing export growth.

Zhang Qingfu, head of the Middle East and Africa overseas business division of Haier, China's largest home appliance manufacturer, said the company had developed a series of new high-end products to target European customers.

"Haier's products have been sold in major shopping malls in European countries, such as France's Darty and Germany's Mediamax," Zhang said.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of European companies have started to seek opportunities in the massive Chinese market.

Enterprises from Holland, Spain and Russia have exhibited their innovative hi-tech products in the Importing Pavilion at the fair.

The most popular booth is occupied by Dutch company Burg, whose hybrid watch-mobile phone devices have attracted numerous Chinese buyers.

Although another Dutch company, Ultrasun International B.V., a manufacturer of indoor tanning equipment, has failed to pick up any orders from Chinese buyers so far, it is optimistic about the China market.

Thijs Fabels, Ultrasun managing director, said, "We focus on high-end consumer markets in China. People are seeking a more comfortable way of life, including the Chinese. As long as they learn the competence of our machine, they will like it."

Editor: Olivia
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