By Staff Writer
In about two weeks from now, all roads will be leading to Guangzhou city in China, and all eyes will be on that city.
Guangzhou will be a hive of activity as thousands of foreign visitors and locals converge for the 125th Spring Canton fair which runs from April to May.
It is the largest trade fair it terms of scale of activities, has the widest variety in exhibitions, and biggest business turn over; approximately US$30 billion in 2017.
According to statistics gleaned from the 124th fair in 2018, there were more than 24,429 Chinese exhibitors and 620 international exhibitors while about 200,000 foreign and local buyers attended the event.
The Canton spring fair changed its name in 2007, to the China Import and Export Fair.
It is divided in three phases and runs continuously over a combined duration of 20 days; Phase1 is from April 15–19, phase 2 is from April 23–27 and phase 3 is from May 1–5.
Phase one is given exclusively to exhibition of electrical and electronic products, vehicles, building materials, and industrial products.
Phase two is reserved exclusively for labour intensive products such as groceries, ornaments, toys, gifts, and furniture. The third phase is for exhibits focused on stationery, clothing, footwear, bags, food and medicines.
The fair has a long history. It its current format it was first held in 1957 and has been hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the government of Guangdong Province, and organized by the China Foreign Trade Centre.
As hosts, over 24,000 of China’s best foreign trade corporations will exhibit a variety of goods in 51 sections.
These Chinese exhibitors will include private enterprises, factories, scientific research institutions, wholly foreign-owned enterprises, and foreign trade companies.
Apart from the exhibitions, various types of business activities such as economic and technical cooperation and exchanges, commodity inspection, insurance, transportation, advertising, and trade consultation are transacted during the event.
Multibillion Dollar trade and investment deals have been struck and concluded at these fairs by partners from opposite ends of the globe.
A lot of joint business ventures between Chinese firms and foreign partners had their genesis in the China Import and Export fair.
The China Import and Export Fair is the place to be for African manufacturers, exporters, innovators, inventors and venture capitalists, not to mention ICT experts emerging from the continent.
The advantages of attending the fair for an African are numerous. China is no longer an emerging global market but an economic global giant with ever increasing business on the African continent.
An African buyer, exporter or entrepreneur will have the advantage of meeting face to face with their targeted business partners in Guangzhou.
These could be exporters, importers manufacturers, suppliers, investors, venture capitalists, consultants, inventors and every business category one may think of from across the globe.
Those in Africa for instance, who have been sourcing their product from China via the net will attest to the fact that searching back and forth between vendors is costly and time consuming.
In addition, this mode of communication means that the buyer cannot speak face to face with the suppliers but through the chat programs.
Suppliers also have to wait to have samples made and shipped to them which can take a long time, even several months in some cases.
But when one attends the Import and export Fair in China, they are able to easily engage with hundreds of both local and foreign vendors or suppliers in the span of just a few days.
Additionally, a potential importer from Africa has immediate access to goods because all the vendors have sample products of their goods at the fair which can be inspected and gauged for quality on site.
During the fair, it is common for buyers to place large bulk orders for products right at the fair and get all the necessary processes and transactions done within a matter of minutes.
Contrast this with an importer in say West Africa, embarking on a process to import a variety of complicated assorted industrial machinery which have to be in exact specifications.
Factors like language barrier, verification and time frame will come in and affect the process.
But by far the best advantage is that the potential buyer or importer from Africa is accorded a face to face interaction at the fair, it is a priceless opportunity where all questions and doubts are dealt with there and then.
Attending the fair is free, all that one needs to do is register with the Chinese embassy located in one’s own country where all processes are explained to the delegates stage by stage.
China is enjoying business and investment boom with Africa and entry into China by African business representatives has been smoothed over with no unnecessary delays or hold ups.
For a continent enjoying this level of business tempo with China, it is only opportune that African businesses attend the China Import and Export fair in even higher numbers this year.