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Hope and confidence at fair

THE 105th China Import and Export Fair opened yesterday in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, amid a backdrop of an economic slowdown caused by the international financial turmoil, but it did not dampen confidence and hope among participants.

The barometer of China's external trade, the biannual event, also known as the Canton Fair, is to be held in three phases. The first will be held between yesterday and Sunday, the second from April 24 to 28, and the third from May 3 to 7.

The number of attendees yesterday was down to 22,104 - 237 fewer than last year, partly because of the worsening economic downturn. They included 8,000 buyers. Some 395 companies from 36 countries are taking part in the import section, the organizers said.

Despite the financial crisis, "we are still confident in our own brand. The customers we attracted over the past four years are loyal and reliable, and orders from Europe remain stable," Fang Jiaqing, international sales manager with Zhongji Export LLC based in southwestern Sichuan Province, said yesterday.

The company sells diving pumps and motors mainly to European nations, including Germany, Britain and Denmark. Fang said his company wanted to woo some clients from the Middle East at the fair.

John Zacharatos, a buyer from Panama, said that the Canton Fair had provided his company with quite a few business opportunities over the years. This time he came here to search for Chinese products of good quality and lower prices. His company's sales slid 30 percent last year and was looking to cut costs to offset losses.

Another purchaser, Adeleon from Mexico, said though the financial crisis had jolted the United States, he felt the Mexican economy was still developing and his company was expanding. He said he had seen information about the Canton Fair on the Internet, and hoped he could find good-quality China-made electronics here.

Ningbo Aux Import and Export Co from Zhejiang Province has expanded its booth at the fair by 50 square meters from a year ago to 300 square meters, said Cai Jingquan, the company's vice general manager.

Aux sells 45 percent of its home electrical appliances and electric products to overseas markets.

"We see the trade fair as a good opportunity to display our new products and to explore new markets," Cai said.

Huang Haibin, international sales manager with Shandong Joyoung Co, said the financial crisis had a negative impact on his firm's sales growth which fell to less than 30 percent last year.


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