[Canton Fair Story]Hwang Jaewon: Canton Fair Allows More Korean Companies to Share Opportunities for Global Development
“The Canton Fair enjoys a long history and extensive international influence. It is a window for China’s opening up to the outside world and an important platform for companies of South Korea to go global. South Korea comes here to ‘check in’ every year”, said Hwang Jaewon, Chief Representative of Guangzhou Korea Trade Center of Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, while accepting our interview at the 126th Canton Fair. Having been working in China for 16 years, 52-year-old Hwang Jaewon has profoundly felt the charm of “China’s No. 1 Fair”.
More Than 80% of South Korean Companies Attend the Fair for Many Years in a Row
Multifunction juicer, portable mini frying pan, invisible smart door lock... at the International Pavilion, booths marked “Korea” can be seen everywhere. Various South Korean small household appliances and hardware tools attract global buyers. Back to 2007, at the 101st Canton Fair, the International Pavilion was set up for the first time and the Canton Fair was renamed as “China Import and Export Fair”, which not only further broadened channels for foreign products to enter China, but also symbolized that China began to transform from focusing on earning foreign exchange through export to seeking balanced development of import and export. It was at this session that Guangzhou Korea Trade Center began to act as an agent for the International Pavilion, with a view to achieve “deep contact” of South Korean companies into the Chinese market and the global market through the Canton Fair.
“80% of South Korean exhibitors have participated in the fair for at least 5 years. Many companies hope to take part in future sessions, because the Canton Fair can greatly help them explore the international market. Some companies even say, ‘if our budget can support our participation in only one international exhibition, the Canton Fair is the choice,’” introduced Hwang Jaewon. South Korean companies are very enthusiastic in participating in the Canton Fair. Since the 101st session, Guangzhou Korea Trade Center has organized more than 1,000 exhibiting companies, with nearly 2,000 booths. At this session, there are 227 South Korean exhibitors. In the first phase, 145 exhibitors displayed electrical appliances, hardware, foods, baby products and other products. More and more South Korean companies have opened up a broader market with the help of the Canton Fair.
Expand the Global Market at the Canton Fair
Hwang Jaewon believes that the most important purpose for companies to attend international exhibitions is to display new products and new technologies and open up new markets. Each session of the Canton Fair attracts over 200,000 overseas buyers, which makes it undoubtedly the best stage for companies. “Companies achieve good results promoting their brands to global buyers at the Canton Fair. Many companies say that every year, they would get new global customers from the Canton Fair. In the past, South Korean companies’ export destinations were mainly Europe and America. Now they have entered the Middle East, Africa and other markets.”
Hwang Jaewon holds that China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” has opened up new spaces for world economic growth, and that the Canton Fair has become an important link between global companies and the “Belt and Road” market. “The ‘Belt and Road’ market has large overall potentials for demand, but the channels are blocked. Buyers in these countries tend to conduct centralized procurement to reduce costs at exhibitions, which is an advantage of the Canton Fair. In the past, South Korean companies had to bear high logistics costs for exporting products to Central European countries. However, with the continuous advancement of the “Belt and Road”, South Korean companies transport products via Central European trains, which has greatly reduced logistics costs and created opportunities for them to develop new customers.”
The Canton Fair Promotes In-depth Cooperation between Chinese and South Korean Companies
According to statistics of the South Korea Customs, from January to June 2019, South Korea’s exports to China fell by 13.7%, and imports from China increased by 4.3%. Hwang Jaewon said frankly that South Korea mainly exported petrochemical products and auto parts to China. As Chinese companies’ possess increasingly enhanced independent R&D capabilities, foreign trade between South Korea and China is undergoing structural changes.
“At the Canton Fair, we can obviously feel products displayed by Chinese companies are more and more high-tech. Therefore, in addition to exhibitors, many South Korean buyers are interested in Chinese products, and would go to the Canton Fair for sourcing. Some South Korean and Chinese companies conduct deep cooperation in smart technology. The Canton Fair has truly realized the function of “selling products to global buyers + buying products from global exhibitors”.
Talking about expectations for the Canton Fair, Hwang Jaewon said that the transportation, logistics, finance and other ancillary services of the Canton Fair have reached world-class level. “There are three phases in each session of the Canton Fair. I expect Canton Fair expand to the aspect of trade services, so that companies engaged in trade services can also present themselves at the Canton Fair.”
Source: Canton Fair Press Center/Reporter: Cai Xiaosu