Canton Fair ends with trade volume growth

08:25, May 06, 2011      

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The 109th Canton Fair, held in south China's Guangdong Province and a barometer of China's trade, closed Thursday with a growth in trade volume despite some setbacks.

Contrary to predictions that the number of businessmen to the fair could drop by 5 percent, a record high of 207,000 foreign traders came and struck deals worth more than 36.86 billion U.S. dollars, up 5.8 percent year on year, said Liu Jianjun, the fair's spokesman.

"The growth was better than expected. It indicates a good start for China's trade, which is likely to perform well throughout the year," Liu said.

However, instability in the Middle East dragged down trade conducted at the fair with the region by more than 11 percent in terms of volume.

The number of traders from Libya dropped by 80 percent. Numbers of traders from both Tunisia and Egypt dropped by about 30 percent, according to the fair's statistics.

"Obviously, the political situation in the Middle East has affected China's trade. What we need to do is to gauge the depth of the impact," said Wen Zhongliang, deputy head of the foreign trade department of the Ministry of Commerce.

The fair also reported a drop of 19 percent in trade volume with Japan. The reason might be that Japanese businessmen prefer looking for supplies of food, building materials and others for post-quake reconstruction in northeast China, Liu said.

"China and Japan are key trade partners of each other. Trade between the two countries will continue to grow," Liu said.

Japan's demand for food imports from China has grown rapidly since March as Japanese consumers worry about contamination of local food products amid the nuclear crisis.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce, China's agricultural exports to Japan for the first quarter stood at 2.35 billion U.S. dollars, up 22.8 percent year on year.

The growth gathered pace in March when China's exports of agricultural goods to Japan more than doubled.

The appreciation of China's currency yuan was traders' greatest concern at the fair. Many traders said they worried the appreciation, along with surging labor and raw material costs, might drive a large number of Chinese manufacturers out of business.

"The appreciation of yuan is a foreseeable trend with China being the world's second largest economy. Chinese exporters and importers should adjust more actively to the trend," Wen said.

Emerging markets were major contributors to the fair's trade growth. Trade with Brazil, India, South Africa and Russia all grew by more than 30 percent, according to the fair's statistics.

"China's exports may slow later in the year with the complicated and changeable world trade environment. But I'm confident that China's trade will grow by 15 percent in 2011," Wen said.

Source: Xinhua
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