Canton Fair, officially known as the China Import and Export Fair, is China's largest trade fair and a key indicator of the country's trade and economic development. The fair is held biannually in Guangzhou every spring and autumn since 1957. This year is the 110th year of Canton Fair, and also is the 10th anniversary of China's entry into the WTO.
A total of 529 enterprises from 49 countries and regions attended the import exhibition at the fair. A series of bilateral seminars between Japan and Sweden, as well as seminars among Central and South American countries and China were held to boost trade relations and prompt the world to learn more about China.
Europe overtook the U.S. as China's largest trading partner in 2008. But Sino-EU trade growth has headed downward since the second quarter of 2010, partly due to the region's escalating debt crisis.
The slowdown was particularly apparent in Sino-EU trade last month, with exports rising just 9.8 percent in September from a year earlier, compared with a 22.3 percent rise in August.
During the first three quarters of the year, the growth rate of the Sino-EU trade stood at 20.9 percent, 3.7 percentage points lower than the country's overall trade growth, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.
Wu Minghui, vice manager of the Qingdao Taifa Group Co., a manufacturer of carts and gardening tools, said demand from Europe has dropped significantly. "Europe used to be our biggest export destination, but the worsening sovereign debt crisis pressured cash-strapped European consumers to cut expenses on gardening tools because the our products aren't necessities," Wu said.
The impact of the eurozone debt crisis on the country's foreign trade will be more visible over the next six months, said Wei Jianguo, former vice commerce minister.
Many Chinese business executives at the fair said they were trying to sell more domestically after concluding that overseas markets were far weaker.
"Chinese companies increasingly see a danger in becoming too dependent on a single overseas market. It's an irresistible trend that they will look to domestic and emerging markets to preserve profits," said Zhang Yansheng, director of the Institute for International Economics Research of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning agency.
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