The Spring 2015 Canton Fair is less than a month away (April 15 through May 5th) What is the Canton Fair you ask? Twice a year, a trade fair is conducted to showcase the different products and services of various private and well-known companies in China and around the world. This international business event is widely recognized as the Canton (Guangzhou) Fair. Formally called as the China Import and Export Fair, it happens every year in between April to May and October to November and is held in the city of Guangzhou, China. By far, it is considered as the biggest trading occasion in China. I went to the Canton Fair this last October and below I will dive deeper into the world’s largest trade show.

canton fair 3

One angle of the exhibition hall. It is actually much bigger


A Brief History

The Canton Fair was initially established in the spring and autumn seasons of the year 1957. Since its pilot event in Canton or Guangzhou, the fair became a traditional commercial gathering in the city, hence its name. After some time, it was renamed to Chinese Export Commodities Fair. Eventually, the fair was finally called the China Import and Export Fair five decades later.

Another angle of the exhibition hall

Another angle of the exhibition hall


Who made it possible?

The Guangzhou Fair is a yearly affair spearheaded by the People’s Government of the Guangdong Province and Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China. It is sponsored by the China Foreign Trade Center (CFTC), a government-supported agency.

Picture I took outside one of the many buildings

Picture I took outside one of the many buildings

Significance in the Business Industry

The fundamental function of the trade fair is to promote and develop the export business industry of China. Even so, importing of goods is also happening in the said fair. Aside from that, other forms of commerce related activities like advertising, commodity inspection, consultation and technical and business exchanges take place. The participants are consist of foreign trade companies and enterprises of China. Among the delegations are from private enterprises, research institutions, factories, foreign trade companies and foreign-owned corporations.

Here is a picture I took in one of the Halls with my GoPro

One of the vendor halls with my GoPro

The Three Phases

Since it is a large business gathering, the Canton Fair is divided into three phases per session, with two sessions occurring in two separate seasons in a year. I went to Phases 1 and 2 when I was at the Canton Fair.

  • Phase 1 exhibits different goods and services related to electronics, machinery, hardware, building materials, chemical products and vehicle parts.
  • Phase 2 is more on consumer products, gift items and decorations. Phase 2 seemed to be the best Phase for Amazon sellers. Consumer products and gifts seem to sell best on Amazon and can be bought with little capital.
  • Phase 3 contains Garments and textiles, bags, shoes, recreation items, office materials, medical supplies and health products.

Should You Go? 

If you are serious about selling online, going to the Canton Fair can be the best decision you make! Not only will you have a great time and learn a lot about Chinese culture, but it will make every step of sourcing products quicker and easier.  Almost every booth speaks english which allows you to get down to business immediately. You can go up to a booth, ask them their MOQ, ask them for a sample, and if you do not like their price… you can walk to the booth next door who sells the same item! This whole process could take weeks due to email and timezone differences. A lot of suppliers will want to show you their factory while you are in town. If you are interested in their products, this is a must. You can see how they check for quality and see how they package the products to make sure they will not get destroyed in the shipping process. I recommend the Canton Fair to any serious sellers, just make sure to wear walking shoes.

This year marks as the 117th Canton Fair event. For the spring session, Phase 1 will occur on April 15 to 19, Phase 2 on April 23 to 27 and Phase 3 on May 1 to 5. On the other hand, the autumn session will hold the Phase 1 on October 15 to 19, Phase 2 on October 23 to 27 and Phase 3 on October 31 to November 4.



Here is a video I took at a suppliers booth. They sell fine china and dishes. This is how they thought they could best market their product