A two-day trade fair, co-organized by China's manufacturing base of Guangdong and the country's biggest HKEx-listed e-commerce group Alibaba.com, opened here on Saturday, aiming to help small exporters tap into the domestic market amid weak overseas demand.
According to the organizer, the trade fair was attended by a total of 400 small exporting firms in Guangdong, who also opened their e-shops at Alibaba's business-to-business company, and up to 30,000 big online sellers at taobao.com, China's largest consumer-to-consumer auction company owned by Alibaba.
Ma Yun (Jack Ma), chairman of Alibaba.com, told the opening ceremony that his company had been thinking of doing something to help China's, particularly Guangdong's, small- and medium-sized enterprises as many were mired in the export crisis in the wake of the financial crisis.
Ma said it was the world's first trade fair of online-selling products, and he hoped Guangdong's exporting firms could sell more products to domestic consumers through the Internet. With millions of e-shops seeing their sales growing quickly, Alibaba's sellers could contribute to the campaign to expand domestic demand, he said.
Tong Xing, Guangdong's vice governor, said the trade fair was significant in helping Guangdong's economy tide over the global financial crisis and achieve growth.
The fair provided a trade place for online sellers, manufacturing companies and dealers and also offered a rare opportunity for manufacturers to tap the domestic market and expand sales at home, Tong said.
As the slump in exports showed no sign of improving, thousands of medium- and small-sized exporting firms in Guangdong continued to struggle to survive. Guangdong, China's largest provincial economy, is the most export-oriented one. Its exports accounted for more than one fourth of the country's total of 1.43 trillion U.S. dollars last year.
In the first four months this year, Guangdong exported 98.5 billion U.S. dollars worth of goods, down 17.8 percent year on year. Its exports continued to decline for the sixth consecutive month since last November.
Guangdong provincial government has in recent months stepped up efforts to help exporters tap potential at home. Last month, the Canton Fair, known as China's largest export event, was opened to a group of domestic buyers for the first time in its half-century history. The organizers hoped domestic deals could offset a plunge of overseas orders.
The booming online shopping business offered a channel. According to an industry report released in February by the Shanghai-based iResearch Consulting Group, an Internet market researcher, China's online transaction volume last year rocketed 128.5 percent year on year to 128.2 billion yuan (18.8 billion U.S. dollars), which was 65 times more than that of 2003. That meant every Chinese spent more than 1,600 yuan last year in online purchases, 582 yuan more than the previous year.
The report said a quarter of China's nearly 300 million netizens took to online shopping last year. In 2008, Taobao had a total consumer-to-consumer transaction volume of 98 billion yuan, more than double that of 2007, which accounted for some 82 percent of the country's total C2C transaction volume. With it, Taobao outsold all retailers in the country including Bailian Group and WalMart.