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China Now Commentary: (Canton) Fair Go

China General Interest

One New Zealander was at the first Canton Fair in 1957. This was in an era, when any travel to or in China was hazardous, “gweilo” (foreigners) were scarcely encouraged to visit and most western Governments were underwhelmed by the prospect of their citizens wanting to trade with China.

Fifty years later, that New Zealander, NZCTA Honorary Lifetime Member, Vic Percival, was invited back to Guangzhou to celebrate the 100th Fair (they are held twice each year for those who are puzzling at the mathematics!). He was the only “foreigner” who attended in 1957, still alive and able to tell the story. So he was asked to make the only overseas visitors’ response to the speeches of dignatories, including Premier Wen Jiabao at the grand celebratory ceremony at the newer of the two exhibition halls, Pazhou.

Five thousand guests attended the ceremony, which was televised live nationally to hundreds of millions viewers.

These days around 800 New Zealand business people visit each Canton Fair and with good air services, including a new Cathay Pacific link and comfortable hotels, it is not difficult to travel there, visitors are warmly welcomed and Governments encourage bilateral trade.

Why Canton Fair? Well, we are buying a large proportion of our consumer goods from China now and the Fair has the reputation and size to deliver our importers a huge range of goods in a substantial range of categories.

No other Fair in China - and very few around the World either - can match it for this coverage.

But since 2007, the China Exports Commodity Fair has become the China Import and Export Commodities Fair and the International Pavilion has been offering booth space to exporters with “foreign” Certificates of Origin to sell to Chinese buyers. With up to 200,000 overseas buyers also visting the Fair, this gives the added advantage of exposure to buyers from a multiplicity of other markets.

NZCTA has been the New Zealand agent for the International Pavilion and thus so far, in a minor way, it has been ensuring New Zealand made goods are being exhibited amongst the stands, many of them gargantuan, of other suppling nations.

This is being done without the benefit of Government subsidy and, indeed, with the criteria for Export Assistance in a process of revision and the market development fund not now available to new applicants.

For the 106th Fair in October, there will be another small New Zealand presence in the International Pavilion but with partners, EMA and support from gold sponsor, Cathay Pacific and the Hong Kong NZ Business Association, we’re planning a host of other activities around the Fair with a Trade Mission to Guangzhou, the Pearl River Delta and Hong Kong.

Exploring a new market or seeking suppliers as part of a delegation has enormous benfits. Basically, the organisers make the arrangements (at group rates) so that you can concentrate on doing the business.

Whilst such a Mission is not sector specific , it can be tailor made enough to offer business matching opportunities as well as industrial visits and general interest meetings.

Missions are invariably led by experienced China hands and contain a good mix of experienced traders and newcomers.

Guangzhou is a sophisticted city, China’s third in size and population and a main manufacturing hub.

Since the onset of China’s reform programme, the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone has been the fastest growing portion of the fastest growing province in the fastest growing large economy in the world. It has become the world's workshop and is a major manufacturing base. The Economic Zone accounts for approximately one third of China's trade value.

Hong Kong, as well as being a major gateway, particularly to Southern China, remains a vibrant economy in its own right.

Our intention is that delegates receive a strong flavour of this vibrancy and of the opportunities it presents and have a lot of fun at the same time.

NZCTA offers:
  • All-inclusive packages (we’ll do the organising, you do the business)
  • Experienced leaders and professional management
  • Business matching
  • The benefits of doing business with likeminded Kiwi business people and of networking and travelling as a group
  • ...and the sheer good fun!

For product categories at Canton Fair 106 click here. For general information about the Fair visit:

Tags: canton fair Guangzhou