The 133rd China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) kicked off on April 15. This is the first fully on-site edition since the outbreak of COVID-19. According to the event's news center, as of 6 p.m. on April 15, the fair had received 370,000 visitors, including 67,000 foreign visitors, while the online attendance reached 410,000, including 280,000 foreign visitors. At this largest-ever Canton Fair, many top export companies in China have geared up for success, taking up extra booths, showcasing new products, and issuing invitations to overseas clients. What is the source of their confidence?
With New Products, Comes Opportunities
Over 300 product launches have been held online and offline, with 800,000 new products debuted online. New products are Chinese exporters' key selling proposition at this Canton Fair. "It's been three years of online communications. This event is a rare opportunity for everyone to try out new products personally. People have curiosity and anticipate products with innovative technology," said Zeng Zhanhui, President of Xinbao Holdings, during the interview.
Mirroring the scale of the Canton Fair, Xinbao's participation is the greatest ever. The company has increased its number of booths from 17 to 37, with an expansion of exhibition space from 100 square meters to 300 square meters, showcasing over 500 products across a diverse product range. "Unlike the static displays of the past, we want to offer new experiences to our clients." Xinbao's expanded exhibition space covers experiential settings for their kitchen appliances, personal care, health and cleaning products. "Imagine the changing scenes of a Chinese landscape painting. Each booth is a mini-scene."
From kitchen appliances to diverse product lines, and from static to dynamic displays, these new products and new experiences encapsulate Xinbao's innovative efforts over the past three years as well as a realistic portrayal of "involution" in the small appliance sector. "Take household cleaning products as an example. In the past, we had traditional products like mops and brooms. Only three years after the pandemic, new products like cleaning robots have emerged." In Mr. Zeng's view, this demonstrates that product innovation is the right pathway toward a better future in the face of challenges. That is exactly what Xinbao has been doing for the past three years. Data shows that Xinbao spent RMB 340 million in R&D in the first three quarters of 2022, up 12.35% year-on-year. Its R&D investment over the past three years exceeded RMB 1.17 billion.
Xinbao has put in place an innovative technology system. As the company manufactures and sells a generation of products, it is developing and testing the next generation simultaneously — essentially, generating momentum for continual development. Xinbao has categorized product innovation into micro-innovations and substantive innovations as well as adjusted its intellectual property rights policy to incentivize its R&D staff to invest in long-term technological innovations. "We're in the Pearl River Delta. Our competitors in the region would be able to replicate our simple micro-innovations quickly within three or six months," said Mr. Zeng. "We prefer to focus on foundational aspects and in-depth, substantive technological innovations."
With Change, Comes Hope
After weathering 67 years, the Canton Fair remains the barometer of Chinese export. To Chinese exporters, the Canton Fair is not only a platform for showcasing their products and capabilities, but also a platform for exchanging information and understanding new trends in the export industry. Mr. Zeng believes that the fair can attract merchants from all over the world because "it provides a venue for the robust exchange of information. Attending the fair also gives you a clear idea of future trends for products."
Data shows that buyers from 226 countries and regions have registered online and offline to participate in the 133rd Canton Fair. Many are clearly looking forward to the event. At Xinbao's exhibition area, we found overseas exporters trying out new products such as sewing machines and vacuum cleaners with OLED displays and taking videos with their phones. Exporters were also seen holding negotiations at the tables located within the exhibition space. "We invited 500 overseas clients. All of them will be attending the fair." According to Mr. Zeng, in terms of numbers, clients from developing countries make up the majority. But when it comes to revenue, brands and distributors from Europe and the US contribute a greater share.
In Mr. Zeng's view, the robust exchanges with foreign clients are a sign of the global market's steady recovery. That is why he is hopeful and confident that exports will grow this year. "Demand in the European and US markets is recovering steadily. At the same time, we have rolled out many new products. The export sector is expected to record big growth this year and next year, based on a growing global market." Particularly, during the first quarter of this year, Chinese exports and imports totaled RMB 9.42 trillion, a 10.7% increase from last year. Heartened by a steady start to the year, Mr. Zeng calls it "a light at the end of the tunnel."
This grand springtime event has bolstered exporters' confidence. Dawn is finally here.
(Source: China National Radio)