Sluggish global demand dampens buyer interest
The first phase, which ran from Wednesday to Sunday, saw a turnover of machinery and electronic products worth $6.44 billion in the three days up to Friday. But in the first four days of last year's autumn session, the turnover was $12.5 billion.
The decline was mainly due to the sluggish global economy and weakening demand, the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME) said on Sunday.
Among them, the turnover of consumer electronic products plummeted by 55 percent year-on-year, the chamber said.
"Besides the impact of e-commerce channels, a lack of enough new products might also have diminished buyers' interest," Li Jian, an expert with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times.
Exports of machinery and electronic products usually account for more than half of China's annual exports. The sector's export value grew by merely 0.4 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters of this year, data from Chinese customs showed.
The CCCME noted the sector was facing challenges such as the trend of manufacturing activity shifting back to developed economies as well as increasing cost competitiveness of Southeast Asian economies.
"Some global electronic manufacturers such as Samsung and LG have moved some of their production bases to Vietnam from China, as China's labor costs are rising," said Liu Buchen, a home appliance industry watcher who visited the fair.
But countries such as Vietnam and Thailand still lagged far behind China in terms of supply capability, so there would not be a large-scale capacity relocation in three to five years, he said.
The Canton Fair, which takes place every spring and autumn in Guangzhou, capital city of South China's Guangdong Province, is seen as a barometer of China's exports. However, its influence has been declining due to the fast growth of a variety of e-commerce platforms.
The fair attracted a total of 96,393 buyers as of Saturday, data from its organizer showed, down from 101,198 buyers at the spring session but higher than 92,149 at last year's autumn session.
Compared with previous sessions, the number of buyers from Africa dropped sharply due to the impact of Ebola, the organizer said.
Liu Jianjun, a spokesman of the Canton Fair, expected an increase in the number of Russian buyers amid Western economic sanctions on the country, according to a press conference held Tuesday before the opening of the fair.
Some export-oriented firms have also turned to the emerging market.
Jonsung Technology, a Shenzhen-based LED manufacturer which attended the fair, said Saturday that Russian buyers had visited its stand every day during the fair.
The company's exports to Russia accounted for 28 percent of its total export value in the past two years.