Visit the Canton Fair is Graham’s advice to people who are serious about importing products from China. While many people doing business in China will tell you that you can buy everything from buttons to bulldozers at the Canton Fair, seeing it for yourself really brings that message home. The size and scale of the China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) is awe inspiring for first time visitors.
About the Canton Fair
With sessions held twice a year, in Autumn and in Spring, the Canton Fair draws people from all around the world to Guangzhou in China for three weeks of serious international trade. Buyers from around the world visit the Canton Fair, attending one, two or three phases, each of which runs for five days. Exhibitors move in and out on the three days in between phases. During each phase products are on display in three areas comprising 16 multistorey halls in total and as well as in a few outdoor areas.
Phase 1 includes products made in China such as electronics and household electrical appliances, hardware and tools, machinery, vehicles and spare parts, building materials, lighting equipment, chemical products and energy resources. Phase 2 includes consumer goods, gifts and home decorations and Phase 3 is where you will find textiles and garments, shoes, office supplies, cases and bags, recreational products, medicines, medical devices, health products and food. There is also an International Pavilion displaying products from several other countries during the fair.
The 130th session of the Canton Fair starts on 15th October 2021 and goes through to 3rd November 2021. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, it will be held in an online and offline merged format.
Note: The following advice for attending the fair in person reflects requirements prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It does not reflect pandemic prevention and control measures.
Attending the fair in person
To attend the fair in person, you will need to obtain a buyer card. You can register before the show or when you arrive. Registration may be done at the fair or at nominated hotels. To register you will need to a recent photo (5cm x 4 cm), proof of identity (e.g. passport) and a business card. There is a service charge, which will cost you approximately 100 RMB. Once you have a buyer card, you will be able to continue to use it at future fairs.
If you are travelling to China for the fair, you may find it convenient to ask the fair organisers for an invitation. The invitation is required to obtain a Chinese business visa. If you decide to go to the fair after you arrive in China, the invitation is not required to attend the fair.
If you engage an interpreter to attend the fair with you, they will also be required to register. Only one local representative is allowed to accompany you and you must be with them to verify they are accompanying you. You will only be able to sign in one person a day, up to a maximum of three people during the fair. The local representative badge costs approximately 300 RMB.
Bring your business cards
Be sure to bring your business cards with you when you visit the Canton Fair. Exhibitors will expect you to give them your contact details in exchange for information on their products. If this is your first time handing out business cards in China, you will notice that the exhibitor will look closely at the business card. This is a sign of respect. Additional information about exchanging business cards is available here.
It’s a good idea to plan your day before you go to the fair. Work out what stands you want to visit and look at their locations on a map. The venue is divided into three areas, with eight exhibition halls in Area A, five in area B and three in Area C. Wear comfortable shoes and plan your appointments to avoid backtracking, if possible, as your feet will be tired at the end of the day.
Because there is so much information available to you it is a really good idea to take notes as you go. Avoid writing on business cards, as this is considered to be disrespectful.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for on this trip, remember that the Canton Fair will be on again in six month’s time.
Learn more about doing business in China
You can learn more about doing business in China from Graham through a do it yourself Import Assistance package from QPS Importers. Graham has been importing quality goods from China since 2009. He enjoys passing his knowledge on to other people who would like to import from China. He attends both sessions of the Canton Fair each year. If you are planning to attend and you’d like some help or advice beforehand or while you’re over there, get in touch with him now to discuss your requirements.
Keep up to date with the news!
If you would like to know when we publish a new blog post, connect with us on social media.
Share this information with your colleagues
Do you think any of your colleagues or friends would be interested in this article? If so, please share it with them on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter using the share buttons below.