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With over 5,000 live streams, China’s famous Canton Fair kicks off online, amid Covid-19

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By Li Gang, People’s Daily

The 127th China Import and Export Fair, or Canton Fair, kicked off online on June 15, leaving the China Import and Export Fair Complex (CIEFC), the venue for holding previous Canton Fairs stretching a kilometer along the Pearl River, in complete quietness.

Around 1.8 million export commodities from 25,000 exhibiting enterprises are displayed at 50 online exhibition sections, and over 5,000 streams are on live on the portal where the links of 105 cross-border e-commerce comprehensive pilot areas and 6 cross-border e-commerce platforms are showcased for viewers to explore more opportunities.

This unusual online exhibition indicates China’s confidence. Founded in 1957, the Canton Fair is known as the “barometer” and “wind vane” of China’s foreign trade and has never ceased its exhibitions.

Though postponed for two months and moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the online fair bring a new platform of economic and trade cooperation for global merchants.

Livestreaming studios have been set up by Midea Group, a Chinese electrical appliance manufacturer attending this year’s Canton fair at its headquarters 30 kilometers away from the CIEFC.

As soon as the online event raised its curtain on the morning of June 15, a “host” from the group’s Asia Pacific marketing department started introducing in English the new products of the company to foreign dealers.

As a matter of fact, livestreaming marketing is nothing new to the Midea Group as the group has launched a series of livestreaming promotions during China’s pandemic control. To advertising in English at the international fair is nothing difficult for Midea’s employees.

Galanz, also a manufacturer of home appliances, has built an immersive online exhibition hall with virtual reality and other new technologies, exhibiting over 100 products tailored for consumers from different countries and regions. Besides, the company has also created different life scenarios for buyers to experience its products.

“Instead of meeting foreign buyers face-to-face like we did in previous fairs, we now communicate via the Internet,” said Liang Huiqiang, deputy chairman of Galanz as well as manager of foreign trade business at the company, adding that the livestreaming team of Galanz will introduce their products in over 10 languages.

The online event is a special move taken by China at such a special time, said Xu Bing, spokesperson of the Canton fair and deputy director general of China Foreign Trade Center.

China’s foreign trade has faced with unprecedented challenges amid the pandemic. In order to give full play to the role of the Canton Fair as an all-round open platform to help Chinese companies expand their markets and stabilize their share, the Canton Fair will make full use of digital technologies to bring mutual benefits for Chinese and foreign companies, Xu noted.

The online fair mainly includes three parts – an online display and docking platform, cross-border e-commerce, and livestreaming promotion, providing around-the-clock services including online exhibitions, promotion, business docking and negotiations for enterprises.

The exhibits fall into 16 categories, including electronics & household electrical appliances, lighting equipment, hardware & tools, building materials and consumer goods, basically the same as those in previous sessions.

“We would invited potential buyers into a video room for further negotiation and make sure our staff members are always online to meet the demands of customers from different time zones,” said Pan Jiejian, chairman of Guangdong Xinmeng Food Co., Ltd., adding that they can also sign agreements with partners via the online platform.

Although carried out in a different form, the online fair is the same as the previous ones in essence, Pan noted, who also believes that it is more economical and time-saving, thus attracting more new clients.

Holding the Canton Fair online is an innovation for the global trade business and the Paris Île-de-France Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry will actively promote the event through its channels and with its resources, said Alain Eygreteau, vice president of the organization. He also hopes that the small- and medium-sized enterprises in France could reach more results at the online fair.

Although online exhibition can’t completely replace offline fairs, it is an innovative measure to help companies develop markets and maintain trade operations during epidemic prevention and control, said André Cordeiro, consul general of Portugal in Guangzhou.

Representatives from Peru, Russia and Jordan also agreed that as the epidemic severely harmed global trade, the online Canton Fair could provide a platform for them to purchase new products and contact suppliers. They said the online event will help relieve the impact of the epidemic on global economy, especially international trade.

PEOPLE’S DAILY

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