What: Canton Fair 2019 – Largest Import and Export Trade Fair Show in China

WhenPhase 1: October 15-19, 2019

Phase 2: October 23-27, 2019

Phase 3: October 31- November 4, 2019 

Where: China Import and Export Fair Complex (No. 380, Yuejiang Zhong Road, Guangzhou, China)


Canton Fair is one of the biggest industrial fairs in the world, held twice a year in April and October in China and over 25000 different vendors participate and exhibit new trends and products. It is very important to the economy of China and is an endless market with great deals, ideas, and products with a footfall of over 200,000 buyers attending the fair twice a year.

The first Canton Fair was in 1957 and during that time a lot of the businesses in the country were state-owned. In those days the fair was used as a bridge to link the state-owned businesses in China with people all over the world willing to buy their goods. At its conception, the Canton fair was the only opportunity that foreign companies had to mingle with people producing goods in China. The entire country was on such a lockdown that to travel and interact with the people was difficult hence the fair was created to get them together.

Contrastingly today traveling in China is easy and private ownership has multiplied rapidly. Now, this is an opportunity for every factory to sell their products to the people interested in buying it overseas.

The fair is co-hosted by the Ministry of Commerce of China and the government of Guangdong Province and organized by China Foreign Trade Centre.

  • You can come and meet with the factory or a number of factories.
  • Find the one that meets the price and/ or quality that you require.
  • Submit orders and get the logistics handled to deliver it up to your door.
  • Do banking, withdraw money and ship goods all in one fair.

The fair is divided into a Spring and Autumn session and each session is split into 3 phases, across 5 days each, all focusing on different items. 

Phase 1: 15th Oct – 19th Oct’19


Most of China’s latest high-tech products are presented in the first phase and the exhibits include electrical and electronic products, vehicles & spare parts, building materials, and industrial and chemical products.

Phase 2: 23rd Oct – 27th Oct’19


In this phase, the focus is on labor-intensive products such as household items, ceramics, groceries, ornaments, arts, crafts, toys, gifts, and furniture.

Phase 3: 31st Oct – 4th Nov’19


Here you will find on display stationery & office supplies, textile and garments, footwear, cases and bags, sports, food, medical devices, and health products. Fashion shows are held too.

The Canton Fair gives ordinary businesses and people an opportunity to get on the ground floor in China. It’s a great opportunity to stick your foot in and start doing business here. Buyers from all over the world visit for sourcing purposes.

The Canton Fair is a relaxed sourcing experience as the selling is not aggressive. There are great opportunities to spot the latest trends that are not available online or in stores yet. So to avoid competition and be ahead of the cutting edge competition this is a must-visit. A side benefit of coming to the Canton Fair is the inspiration because rarely do you get to see the wheels of global commerce actually moving. Here is where it all comes together, we’re a global community is interacting through sales and purchases.

Even if you are not a manufacturer or a buyer there is still value in coming to the fair as not only is it very exciting, it gives you a perspective on global commerce that you might never experience otherwise. 

Pro Tips to make it a successful trip:

  • It’s a huge affair, so plan a visit for a couple of days at least and fill up on energy drinks and nutrition bars to be able to cover the entire fair. Also, wear comfortable shoes so you can walk around as the complex is enormous.
  • Bring your own lunch as with thousands of people visiting there are long queues at the food courts.
  • Try and stay at a hotel near the fair to avoid traffic jams and dealing with taxi drivers to negotiate the fares is not something you want to deal with.
  • Ensure you carry your business cards and have on it multiple sources of communication for the vendors to be able to contact you as because of the firewall in China they may have limited internet access 
  • Most people at the fair do speak English, however, if it is your first visit, it is advisable to go with someone local in China who serves as an interpreter and knows the terrain to help you negotiate
  • If online is the name of your game, make sure when purchasing to keep in mind how the products will photograph if you are planning to sell them online. 
  • Don’t purchase too bulky and heavy products as they will prove expensive to ship. Try opting for products that are big enough to fit in a shoebox and are not more than 2 pounds.
  • Baby related products have high marketability and are a good option to purchase.
  • Make sure you check on the exclusivity of the products by country to make sure you are not infringing on any copyrights.
  • Keep a check on the demand and competition through seller finder tools before sourcing a product by putting in keywords to compare your competitors. Check their sales to make sure that you are not getting into a niche that has too much competition or no demand at all.
  • Opt for products that sell under $50 as research proves that when individuals look at purchasing above $49.99, the buying becomes more of a rational decision and you end up losing out on impulse buyers.
  • The vendors expect you to negotiate so engage and build relationships and trust. 


The Buyer card(badge) is the only official admission to the Canton Fair. It is valid for up to 10 years and for multiple sessions of the fair. You can get the buyer badge at the Canton Fair Registration office. Some of the hotels nearby also allow you to register and get your buyer badges at the hotel itself if you are staying with them, so you are not stuck in long queues once you arrive at the fair. Pre-registration online will save registration time and is advisable to do.