Trade fair exhibitors adapt to change
Updated: 2013-03-02 02:42
By WU YIYAO in SHANGHAI (China Daily)
Shanghai event provides the ideal platform for struggling exporters
Exhibitors at one of China's flagship foreign trade fairs say they are lowering their prices, investing in innovations and targeting customers in emerging markets and at home, as demand continues to dip in developed economies.
The 23rd East China Fair, which started on Friday in Shanghai, is considered a barometer of export business trends in the country, and has attracted 3,607 exhibitors, who have taken 5,880 stands.
Tao Libo, a homeware supplier from Nanjing, Jiangsu province, said the company has shifted its production from high-end luxury products to more affordable lines to win consumers around the world.
He described last year as its worst for exports since it started selling abroad in 2000, because many of its frequent buyers in Europe had not signed a single order.
"We are now using new materials to make our products lighter, more affordable and more durable," he said, and the innovations are expected to give the company double-digit growth in export revenue.
Cities across eastern China, one of its key export hubs, saw shrinking export business in 2012.
Statistics show that Shanghai's export business dropped 1.4 percent in value, while in Nanjing companies were even harder hit, with a drop of 3.6 percent.
Liu Xiaodi, a sales representative with Shanghai Longwang Trade Co Ltd, said the textile products company had been focusing on its domestic orders, as the debt crises in Europe had affected its business severely in 2012.
The shift back to the home front, he said, meant he was expecting overall growth in 2013, as the Chinese economy continues to warm.
You Yongsheng, general secretary of the fair's organizing commission, said he knew of many companies that had made innovative changes to their lines and products, which would be appealing to the many foreign buyers expected at the trade event.
"The international market presents little cheer at the moment, and the number of registered overseas visitors is slightly lower than that of last year," he said. "But I'm optimistic the number of foreign visitors actually coming through the doors will be as high as past years."
This year, organizers have launched an award for innovation during the event, prompted by the need for many companies to adapt to the toughening international conditions.
About 20,000 new products are making their debuts at the fair, according to the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.
Xie Ningjuan, a sales representative with Hunan Hualian China Industry Co Ltd, a major ceramics producer from Hunan province, said his company is one of the many taking part in the event which has decided to look away from the more traditional export markets of Europe and the United States, in favor of emerging markets.
"We are setting up a representative office in South Africa and in some Middle East countries to add sales channels to our current ones in European countries and the US," he said.
"Demand is growing in various locations, and we will also try to launch new designs."
The East China Fair is open until March 5, at the Shanghai New International Expo Center.Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org