China–currently the world’s factory–manufactures more goods than any country. As globalization blossomed in the early 1990’s, businessmen from around the world traveled to China in search of low-cost goods which would provide them with a competitive advantage in their home country. In doing so, demand for China import and export fairs increased, making such events increasingly common within the country.
China import and export fairs have traditionally been focused on Chinese exports; however, two new China trade fairs are becoming en vogue: import fairs and business service fairs. Import fairs represent China’s increased demand for foreign goods while business service fairs highlight a growing need for services such as commodity inspections, logistics, and advertising. If planning to visit some of the lesser known fairs, be sure for which side it caters.
Although China import and export fairs have lost some significance due to the rise of online platforms, they are still useful if you want to get an overview of the market. More so if you want to get in touch with many different suppliers in a short time.
Furthermore, particularly trade fairs about niche product categories can give you the opportunity to find all appropriate and related companies. Make sure to find the most relevant trade fair and not necessarily the biggest. The famous trade fairs in China are gigantic so that you should plan to stay for several days.
The scale of Chinese trade fairs is impressive.
Popular China Import and Export Fairs
The following is a list of some of the biggest China trade shows (some trade shows happen throughout the year worth visiting). The list below is only a recommendation, and we advise you do more research to find what is best for you.
1. The Canton Fair
A 3 phase fair, occurring on a bi-annual basis with the first starting in mid-April 2017 and ending early May. The second semester fair starts Sunday, October 15th running consecutively over a three week period, although the Canton fair China is closed over weekends to allow for the 3 different categories to be set up.
This fair provides a comprehensive range of consumer goods. Almost every product category is covered, and with over 60,000 booths, you can be confident there are plenty of opportunities provided. The Canton Fair is the biggest China trade show and is located in Guangzhou, attended by over 200,000 different buyers. Canton Fair Website
2. The Yiwu Commodities Fair
What separates this China import and export fair from the rest is the fact it is a permanent event. Catered towards smaller buyers, the fair focuses on offering wholesale products for all consumer products at lower prices than similar fairs. The fair also hosts a six monthly event (the 23rd fair is planned for the week of October 21st, 2017). Yiwu Commodities Fair Website
3. Bauma China 2017:
This fair focuses on the construction industry, with machinery, vehicles and equipment being showcased across the week. The bi-annual event is scheduled for November 27th, 2018 and will consist of roughly 3000 exhibitions and attended by around 200,000. The main fair is hosted in Shanghai, but other Bauma exhibitions are also held in Russia, Europe and South Africa, should you wish to attend on a different continent. Bauma
4. The China International Fair for Investment and Trade:
This fair focuses on gathering investment for new ideas or products. It allows people from around the world to present business opportunities in China and is the only nationwide professional event for international investment promotion. A yearly event it is hosted in late September with the next two-day event scheduled for September 18th, 2017 CIFIT is hosted in Xiamen.
5. The East China Import & Export Commodity Fair
A trade fair located in Shanghai which boasts the largest amount of traders, the most extensive coverage consumer goods and highest trade volume in China. Attracting attendees from over 175 different countries and the fair is increasing in size year on year. The next fair is scheduled to be hosted from the 1st to the 5th of March 2018. EastChinaFair
6. The China International Consumer Goods Fair:
This is one of the 4 big import and export fairs hosted yearly in Ningbo, China. It focuses on a wide range of consumer goods, and boasts an average of 5,000 booths yearly. Held from June 9th till June 12th every year, this is one of a few events hosted directly by the local municipality.
There are plenty of other China import and export fairs throughout the year; many are similar to The Canton Fair in offering a broad range of consumer goods. Many others are focused on niche areas from automobiles to dietary products. To find exactly what you are looking for a full diverse list can be found here.
There are special trade fairs for many niche products.
How to Access Trade Fairs
Due to the language barrier and culture differences in China, planning a trip to visit China import and export fairs can often be overwhelming. Some companies offer packages which provide translators, travel, and accommodation in China.
Making the Most of a China Import and Export Fairs
It is essential when you visit a trade show to make the very most of your time there. A map of the exhibition layout will be useful, and it is also advantageous to pre-book meetings with vendors to which you know you want to talk. Bringing note writing equipment and requesting additional information resources will help you be able to take away the most value as possible. Most of the vendors would also have pamphlets and business cards so it would be wise to bring a document bag of sorts.
It can also be ideal to pre-plan your visit – also with respect to your visa. Pre-registering for a specific fair will allow you to receive an invitation letter, making visa applications much easier. Many of the websites listed for fairs has specific sections covering this matter.
Understanding clearly what you want to achieve and the information you will require, plan for pre-registration to avoid standing in queues and staying in close hotels will make the trip easier. Fairs are all day events (with many having thousands of vendors).
Creating a list of booths you want to see will save a tremendous amount of time. It could also be wise to pack something to eat and drink. Many of the fairs have started to cater for international clients in respect to refreshments served, but if you do not fancy Asian food, it is always best to pack your own. This could however, also be an opportunity to fully embrace the culture, the choice is yours.
If you are a seasoned traveler, this tip may not be for you, but remember that you are in China, and this is best left to be enjoyed. Visit one of the only structures visible from space, the Great Wall of China. A trip to the Forbidden City would also likely leave you in awe. Coming back, you will not only have made new business connections, but also have a new view of the world around you.