As a window onto the Chinese marketplace, the Canton Fair - China's most prestigious trade event - is proving increasingly important to buyers and sellers from emerging markets. With the 113th Fair kicking off on April 15, businessmen worldwide - especially those from emerging economies in Latin America, Asia and Africa - are gearing up to build on the success of last year's event, which saw trade in this area prosper.
Last autumn nearly 190,000 buyers from 211 countries and regions around the world attended the 112th Canton Fair. A total of 552 foreign enterprises from 44 countries attended as exhibitors, many of them from developing countries. Many businessmen expressed their optimism about burgeoning trade with China.
Rafeeque Ahmed, President of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations, led a delegation of 52 Indian enterprises to the 112th Fair, offering everything from hand tools to kitchen appliances.
Indian companies are already active in exporting home appliances to the Chinese market, and are introducing products such as auto parts, medicine, crafts and garments, explained Ahmed. He predicted that Indian exports to China will reach US$100 billion by 2018, growing annually by around 30 percent.
"This is a challenging yet achievable target given the potential of the country," said Ahmed.
Quality Chinese goods with competitive prices are welcomed by affluent African consumers, according to Luo Yifeng, a Chinese merchant who purchased products for his African retailers at the last Canton Fair.
"I have made purchases at the fair for buyers in South Africa and Tanzania," said Luo, who has several stores in Africa.
The buying power of African consumers is changing with the continent's rapid development - those with an annual household income of $5,000 or more spend half on goods other than food and shelter. It is estimated that 90 million African residents currently fall into this demographic, and this number will reach 128 million by 2020.