Another China Stumble: Canton Fair Export Orders Down 9%

Reposted from Reuters, Beijing

China's bellwether import-export trade fair showed a decline in orders year-on-year, indicating that strong external demand which helped buoy growth in the third quarter may not be sustainable in the final three months of the year.

The China Import and Export Fair, popularly known as the Canton Fair, generated 179.2 billion yuan ($29.30 billion), organizers said in a statement on Tuesday, the final day of the event that began on Oct. 15. That's 8.6 percent less than last fall's fair after accounting for currency fluctuations.

The twice-yearly event is China's biggest trade exhibition and is seen as a forward indicator of demand for the country's exports.

The importance of the fair has declined as the world's second-largest economy seeks to shift away from exports and manufacturing toward consumption and services to find new drivers of growth.

Despite the desire to pivot away from trade, analysts said strong export growth contributed significantly to China's 7.3 percent growth in the third quarter from a year earlier, beating expectations of 7.2 percent.

September exports increased 15.3 percent year on year, far higher than predictions of 11.8 percent growth.

Attendance at the fair declined by a slim 1.9 percent from the same period a year earlier with worries over the Ebola virus epidemic potentially leading some to stay home. State-run China Daily quoted the fair's spokesman in mid-October saying Ebola and domestic dengue fever epidemics would likely affect attendance and that Africans would not be barred from the event.

Medical workers at the fair held in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong province, donned full protection suits and checked visitors for signs of the Ebola virus that has killed nearly 5,000 people, mostly in West Africa.

The majority of buyers came from Asia, with roughly 20 percent coming from Europe and 14 percent from the Americas. African buyers made up only 8 percent of attendees.


(Reporting By Jake Spring; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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