Canton Fair, China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, is known to be the largest fair in our history, which also gets the most visitors. This fair offers the most complete set of goods in 16 categories of products. These products are directly provided by trade companies and factories, both domestic and foreign, offering the best prices as well as the top quality for the consumers. This fair, which is the largest and most famous of its kind, is only a place for the most capable of enterprises of any type. The Canton Fair takes place in the spring and autumn of each year, and with three stages, which offer a different selection of products.
History of Canton Fair
The China Import and Export Fair was first held, in April 1957 in Canton (Guangzhou), which was known as the China Export Commodities Fair until 2007. Due to the large contribution of the productions and the enterprises located in Guangzhou, this fair was mainly held to increase the export of goods but importing was always available as well. Other than the industrial importance of the city, its location offers a very good path, for trading within China and outside the country borders.
The first time this fair was held it barely had any foreign companies attending, but even then, it made a major contribution to the country’s trade income. The reason for holding the fair at first was to break the international blockades of China’s trade. The nature of the goods on displays was also different as they had much less variety and mostly included raw materials.
As of the year 2019, the Canton Fair of Guangzhou has held over 60000 stands in an area of 1,185,000 m2 which brought 213 countries and regions. International trade on this scale has brought 30,160 billion USD on its 122nd session (2019), making it one of the most important parts of the developments of production, and trade in China, both domestic and foreign.
Prior to the changes of 2007, other than the change of name, the phases have also been altered. The fair was formerly held in two phases, each lasting six days, which was made into three 5-day phases. There were also changes in the number of available products, as well as accommodations for the guests, all as parts of upgrading the infrastructures for the comfort of the visitors.
These upgrades also include health precautions of 2009 for preventing the spread of Ebola. As funny as it may sound, the outbreak of Ebola has caused a major rise in the trading of health products both during that year and after that. Due to the social distancing for the Covid-19, the Canton Fair of 2020 has made preparations to prevent the spread of the virus, by making online trading possible for the costumers.
Phases and Products of Canton Fair
As mentioned earlier, the China Import and Export Fair has three phases in the two seasons of Spring and Autumn. During each of these phases, a large variety of products are offered for consumers and traders in about 51 sections. The date of these phases and the goods in each phase are as follows:
April 15th-19th (Phase 1 Spring) and October 15th-19th (Phase 1 Autumn):
Electronics & Household Electrical Appliances, Lighting Equipment, Vehicles & Spare Parts, Machinery, Hardware & Tools, Energy + Resources, Chemical Products, Building Materials, International Pavilion.
April 23rd-27th (Phase 2 Spring) and October 23th-27th (Phase 2 Autumn):
Consumer Goods, Gifts & Toys, Home Decorations.
May 1st-5th (Phase 3 Spring) and October 31st-November 4th (Phase 3 Autumn):
Office Supplies, Cases & Bags, and Recreation Products, Medicine, Medical Devices and Health Products, Food & Native Products, Shoes, Textiles & Garments, International Pavilion.
Attending the Canton Fair
In order to attend the fair, you need a badge that can be acquired via an invitation. You can apply to get an E-Invitation or a Paper Invitation card before the fair begins. To apply for an E-Invitation you need to register on BEST (Buyer E-Service Tool). As for the Paper Invitation, you need to contact one of the five organizations which are authorized by the government to issue invitations mentioned bellow:
- Canton Fair Call Centre, China Foreign Trade Centre
- the Economic & Commercial Counsellor’s Office of the Embassy (The Economic & Commercial Section of the Consulate General) of P.R. China in your region
- Overseas cooperative organizations of China Foreign Trade Centre
- Canton Fair Hong Kong Representative Office – (852)28771318
- The Chinese foreign trade corporations (enterprises which you have business with)
A more detailed description of the method of receiving an invitation is provided on Canton Fair official website.
Once you get your invitation, you need to apply for Visa to China. Bringing your paper or E-Invitation to the embassy to get your Visa can speed the process as well as get you a badge for a free entry to the Canton Fair. Note that if you are going to Hong Kong first and to Guangzhou, you also need a Visa for Hong Kong.
As soon as you get your badge and Visa, you can use our services at Tripways.com to find a suitable flight to China and book one of the hotels near the Guangzhou International Convention & Exhibition Center (Pazhou International Exhibition Center). We can also provide tour packages for a full visit to the exhibition. The opening hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Hints for Attendance:
It is possible that there are no direct flights to Guangzhou from where you are, which is why you may want to go to Beijing or Hong Kong first and catch another flight from there. You can also take tours specifically for visiting the fair. Just make sure to stay for the whole duration of the phase you want to visit because of the vast area that you need to see.
It is best to determine what you are looking for before applying and attending the fair because it is easy to get lost by just looking around. If you come across anything that catches your eye, it is best to collect their business card and take note of the place and name of the seller. Travel light and wear appropriate clothes for a long walk.
Plan ahead for a place to stay and a place to eat because there may not be many options available nearby which suit your needs.