Updated: 2013-04-15 ( China Daily) - The value of deals signed at China's flagship trade fair may be on par with the previous session, which suggests improving sentiment about the world's biggest exporter, officials said.
"Last year was the most difficult year for Chinese exporters," Liu Jianjun, spokesman for the Canton Fair and deputy director of the China Foreign Trade Center, told a news briefing on Sunday.
"As China's economy picks up, exporters commonly agree that the situation will be better in 2013 in view of the improvement in overseas orders," Liu said.
The 113th Canton Fair, officially the China Import and Export Fair, China's largest biannual trade fair and a barometer of its exports, will be held in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, from Monday to May 5.
"The number of overseas buyers at this session, according to our monitoring, is expected to edge up, and the value of export deals will be equal to that of the last session," Liu said.
But he said uncertainties such as the H7N9 bird flu may take a toll on exports.
The last session of the Canton Fair, held in November, saw overseas buyers decrease by 10.3 percent to 188,000, while the value of export deals declined by 9.3 percent to $32.68 billion.
"The world economy is reversing the downturn and stabilizing," Liu said.
Outbound shipments from the world's biggest exporter gained 10 percent year-on-year in March. China's foreign trade rose 13.4 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2013 with exports increasing 18.4 percent.
Chen Hufei, a researcher at Bank of Communications, said that China's double-digit export growth in March was due to the improvement of global demand and the US economic recovery.
"China's exports in April are likely to maintain double-digit growth and maintain a strong momentum the rest of this year," he added.
While European buyers at the Canton Fair will decline this year, US buyers will stabilize amid the country's economic recovery, and more buyers will come from emerging countries, especially South America and Africa, as well as Russia, whose accession to the World Trade Organization improves its trade environment, Liu said.
But challenges — such as rising costs, a labor shortage, renminbi appreciation, increasing trade protectionism, the re-industrialization in developed economies and strengthening competition in labor-intensive industries from neighboring countries — will continue to hit Chinese exporters, Liu said.
Lin Wei, general manager of Big Tree Toys, said the company's exports dropped almost 20 percent in the first quarter from a year ago.
"Demand in the US and Europe is recovering slowly. But we are yet to see a rebound in exports in such major markets," Lin said.
The Shantou-based toy maker regularly attends the Canton Fair.
"We are looking for more clients from emerging markets such as the Middle East and South America during the fair, to diversify our sales channels," he said.
However, Zheng Yi, general manager of Guangzhou Chaofan Leather, said the company's sales in overseas markets increased more than 20 percent year-on-year in the first quarter due to years of efforts in developing high-end products that are tailored for European and US markets.
"We are now busy making products for overseas orders from the last session of the Canton Fair. The reason for the sustainable growth is that we have put a lot of attention into self-developed brands, which closely meet the demand in the overseas market," Zheng said.
Along with stable business growth in the overseas market, the leather company is also eyeing the domestic market by developing new brands, according to Zheng.
With an exhibition area of 1.16 million square meters, the 113th Canton Fair has 59,531 exhibition stands, 22 more than the last session.