Import Advice: Visiting the Canton Fair

Friday, March 03, 2017

At the Canton Fair you can buy everything from buttons to bulldozers. 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. Visitors attend one, two or three phases of the fair, each of which runs for five days, with exhibitors moving 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 number of 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 122nd session of the Canton Fair starts on 15th October 2017 and goes through to 4th November 2017. To attend the fair, 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 is currently 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 300 RMB.

Be sure to bring your business cards with you as 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 be organised and 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 months time.

Learn more

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, so if you are going to be there and you'd like some help or advice while you're over there, get in touch with him now to discuss your requirements.

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Author: Kathy Creaner

Kathy loves to talk about gardening, program and project management, doing business in China, social media marketing and customer service.

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