October 16, 2018

China’s Canton Fair – 5 Things You Should Know (+2024 Dates)

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Are you preparing to attend China’s 2024 Canton Fair? The China import and export fair (Canton Fair) is one of the world's largest trade fairs. It can be a great opportunity to network with potential partners and learn about new products and manufacturing processes. 

For example, here are the statistics of the 131st Canton Fair

"The 131st Canton Fair was held online from April 14-24, 2022, with record-breaking numbers in terms of exhibitors and buyers. A total of 25,500 exhibitors and 536,000 overseas buyers participated from 228 countries, an increase of 41.8% compared to the previous fair."

In this article, we'll provide you with everything you need to know about the Canton Fair so that you can make the most of your visit. 

Canton Fair – The Largest China Import and Export Trade Fair

The Canton Fair, also known as the China Import and Export Fair, is held every spring and autumn in Guangzhou, China. The fair is co-organized by the Ministry of Commerce of China, the People's Government of Guangdong Province, and the China Foreign Trade Centre.
 

A quick look at Canton Fair’s history:

The first ever Canton Fair was held in Guangzhou in 1957, making it one of the longest-running trade fairs in China. The fair was initially established to help promote trade between China and foreign countries, and it has since evolved into a platform for Chinese companies to showcase their products and services to the world.
 

The China import and export fair is held over three phases twice a year, each lasting five days.

Now you must be wondering, what products are exhibited at the Canton Fair? How big is the Canton Fair? How much does the ticket cost? What are the upcoming dates? And how to register? 

5 Important Things You Should Know About the Canton Fair

Firstly, you should know that it is not a conventional trade fair where you can simply walk in and browse the products. The Canton Fair is more like a business-to-business (B2B) platform where buyers and sellers come together to strike deals.

In short, it's a real-time opportunity for manufacturers to showcase their products and services, and for buyers to source new suppliers - isn't that amazing?
 

Since MorphoMFG is also based in Guangzhou, we have become familiar with the city's biannual influx of buyers and suppliers. Here are the 5 most important things you should know about the Canton Fair.

1. The Canton Fair is Massive:

You might be surprised to know that the Canton Fair is one of the largest trade fairs in the world. It's not only for big businesses but also for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - luckily for both local and international businesses, the fair is open to all.

Here are some numbers for you from a recent Canton Fair:

  • 25,000+ Exhibitors

  • 60,000+ Booths

  • Almost 600,000 Visitors

  • 228 Countries and Regions Represented

But it doesn't stop there! The numbers continue to grow with each edition of the fair. We are not just beating around the bush. It's all based on statistics that we have gathered from the previous fairs.
 

Want to know something more interesting?

The China import and export trade show is also getting popular in the virtual world - Yes, you read that right!

"The online platform of the 130th Canton Fair was visited 32.73 million times, and 33.9 million visitors visit the online platform of 131st Canton fair, accumulatively."

Now that you know how big the game is, let's move on to the next important thing.

2. Cost to Attend the Canton Trade Show:

Being one of the largest trade events in the world, some might think the Canton Fair would be expensive to attend. But what if we tell you that it doesn't have to cost you a single penny?

That's right!

The fair itself is absolutely free to attend for both domestic and international visitors - if you register online. All you need to do is register on their official website, and you're good to go.
 

Haven't registered yet, and the fair is just around the corner?

No worries, you can also register on-site at the fairgrounds, but it will cost you $20. Save yourself unnecessary expenses by registering online.

Book your stay in advance to save on accommodation:

Just because the fair itself is free doesn't mean the rest of your trip will be! Hotel rooms in Guangzhou can get really expensive during the fair (especially at the few nearby hotels), as can flight tickets into Guangzhou.
 

Make sure you plan ahead and make your reservations well in advance - plan wisely!

3. Foreign-friendly and Diversity:

As we mentioned before, the Canton Fair is not just for local businesses. In fact, it's quite the opposite!

The Canton fair used to be called the "Chinese Export Commodities Fair", and despite the official change of name to include "import and export" the show remains predominantly export-oriented.

You must be worried about the language barrier and other such issues - but don't worry, the Canton Fair is one of China's most foreigner-friendly trade shows.
 

Every booth has at least one English-speaking representative, and most of the signage is in Chinese and English. You will also find English-speaking volunteers throughout the major transport routes to and from the fair to help ease your passage.

What about diversity?

The show is also quite diverse in terms of products and services. That's why it is arranged in three phases - each phase focuses on different product categories. 

This helps businesses find the right products and services and makes the fair more manageable for visitors.

Canton Fair Product Phases:

  • Phase 1: New materials, chemical products, construction & agricultural machinery, processing, smart vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, household and consumer electronics, lightning, tools & hardware, industrial automation, spare parts, & others. 

  • Phase 2: Construction & decor, bath & plumbing supplies, seating & storage, cooking & dining, basic pottery, domestic goods, watches, clocks & optical instruments, special occasion gifts, seasonal items, interior accents, fine pottery, artistic glass, outdoor plant care, woven & metal items, stone & metal outdoor features and spa equipment.

  • Phase 3: Personal care products, office suppliers, sports & casual wear, men & women’s clothing, raw textile materials & fabrics, cases, bags, home textiles, carpets & tapestries, toiletries, sports, travel, and recreational products, medicine, health products & medical devices, kid’s wear, underwear, toys, pet products & food, fashion accessories, rural vitalization, furs, leathers, downs & related products, maternity items, shoes, & others.

If you are on a tight schedule and can't visit the fair for all 3 phases - don't worry! 

You can easily find the products and services you're looking for by visiting the phase that focuses on your industry.

4. Pre-Bookings and Meetings Arrangement:

If you want to make the most out of your trip to the Canton Fair, we recommend that you pre-book your meeting and accommodation.
 

Pre-book your hotels as soon as possible as they tend to fill up quickly and become pretty expensive closer to the fair dates.
 

Similarly, you should also pre-book your meetings - only if you are intended to meet some specific supplier.
 

But why? 

Well, the Canton Fair is a massive event with hundreds of thousands of visitors.
 

You can imagine how chaotic it would be to try and meet with someone without any prior arrangement. Pre-booking your meetings ensures a smooth and hassle-free experience at the fair.

Recommendation:

If you are going to launch a multi-component product, we suggest you find a dedicated supplier or manufacturer with expertise in that specific component.

Don't know why?

Check out our recent read: Why You Don't Need to Find Just One Manufacturer in China.

5. Opportunity to Build Personal Relationships:

One of the best things about visiting the Canton Fair is its opportunity to build personal relationships with suppliers.
 

Personal relationships are extremely important in business, and China’s no different. By meeting your suppliers face-to-face, you can start to build a relationship of trust and understanding.

And being a business owner - you know that! Just started a new business and struggling to find a reliable and trustworthy supplier? Keep reading! 

Struggling to Find a Reliable Vendor – Check out How the Canton Fair Can Help You Out

As a new business owner, one of your top priorities should be to find a reliable and trustworthy supplier. The Canton Fair is the perfect place to find such a supplier.
 

Why?

You know that China is the leading manufacturing country in the world. Taking advantage of this, many fake and low-quality suppliers are also out in the market to make a quick buck.
 

As a result, it becomes pretty difficult for new business owners to find a reliable supplier. This is where the Canton Fair comes in.

The Canton Trade Fair only allows quality suppliers and manufacturers to participate. Because in order to participate, the company must have a good reputation and legal business license.
 

But again, with more than 25,000 exhibitors, it can be pretty overwhelming to find the right supplier. You need to do a lot of research before zeroing in on one.
 

You can also check out our recent blog post: How to Find the Best Distributor in China.

Planning to Visit the Canton Fair – Don’t Forget This!

Here is a quick checklist of things that you should keep in mind before visiting the upcoming Canton Fair:

  •  Pre-Booking:

Get yourself registered online. You just need to fill out an overseas buyer form and submit it to confirm your registration.
 

For hotel and flight ticket booking, use various online platforms like Booking.com, Fliggy, Trip.com, etc.

  •  Visa Application:

If you are visiting from a country requiring a visa to enter China, you must apply for it at least 1-2 months in advance.
 

You can apply for a visa through the Chinese embassy or consulate in your country. Visa consultants can also help you with the application process.

  •  Arrange an Assistant:

As you know how massive the Canton Fair is, it would be a good idea to hire an assistant to help you with the language barrier and other things like trade assistance.

However, all of the signage is in English, but if your native language is not English or Chinese, you should definitely consider getting an assistant.

  •  Plan Your Schedule:

The Canton Fair is divided into 3 phases - 5 days per phase.

Each phase has a different set of products on display. You need to plan your schedule so that you can see everything you are interested in.
 

Now, let's look at some important dates for the Canton Fair in 2024.

Canton Fair 2024 Dates

Canton Fair 2024 Spring Phase Dates:

  • Phase 1: 15th - 19th April 2024.

  • Phase 2: 23rd - 27th April 2024.

  • Phase 3: 1st - 5th May 2024.

Canton Fair 2024 Autumn Phase Dates:

  • Phase 1: 15th - 19th October 2024.

  • Phase 2: 23rd - 27th October 2024.

  • Phase 3: 31st Oct. - 4th Nov 2024.

Timings (For Each Phase):

9:30 am -18:00 pm (CST)

What to do After You Visit the Canton Fair With Your Product Idea 

Once you’ve visited the fair in hopes of finding reputable manufacturers and suppliers, you realize one thing above all else: It's a maze out there, and trust is a big question mark.

As a contract manufacturer based in Guangzhou, MorphoMFG has been helping Westerners navigate manufacturing in China so that they get two things: The expertise of Chinese engineering, and savings compared to manufacturing in their home countries. 

That said, we only focus on high-end, custom projects that we can get behind. Most of the leads that come our way are unqualified for this reason, but if you think you’d fit the part please feel free to check out our services page. You’ll learn what we do & how onboarding works. 

Related: Learn more about Import and export services in China.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to register for Canton Fair 2024?

It's just a simple process that you don't need to worry about.

Just follow this 3-step process:

That's it!
 

Hurry up and register yourself as soon as possible because the earlier you register, the better it is!

Where is the Canton Fair organized?

The Canton Fair has been held twice a year, every year, since 1957 in Guangzhou (formerly known as Canton).
 

Guangzhou is the third-largest city in China (after Shanghai and Beijing). It has historically been one of the few trading ports open to Western trade, so it has a rich history of engaging in international commerce. Today, it is home to the world's largest wholesale supplier trade show.

About the author

Josh Fairbairn

CEO of MorphoMFG, fluent in Mandarin, Blogger, and Youtuber. Josh loves interesting materials and the craftsmanship that goes into creating innovative products - watches, tech, games, whisky, leather, wood, blockchain & electronics. Josh and his team in Guangzhou, China are striving to create (& consume) the world’s highest quality products. Partnering with entrepreneurs globally to help solve the world's problems - whether small or large.

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