And the respective products of each phase:
Phase 1 (Oct. 15-19, 2015)
- Electronics & Household Electrical Appliances
- Lighting Equipment
- Vehicles & Spare Parts
- Hardware & Tools
- Building Materials
- Chemical Products
Phase 2 (Oct 23-27, 2015)
- Consumer Goods
- Home Decorations
Phase 3 (Oct. 31- Nov. 4, 2015)
- Office Supplies
- Cases & Bags,
- Recreation Products
- Textiles & Garments
- Medical Devices
- Health Products
How to Get to the Canton Fair
Guangzhou is a mega city of more than 14 million people. That being said, it’s far from being an international metropolis, and direct flights can be hard to come by. However, neighboring Hong Kong is one of Asia’s primary airline hubs, and the most convenient flight destination when traveling to Guangzhou, in Mainland China. From the Hong Kong International Airport, you can jump on a train and head straight for Guangzhou, which is only 120 km away. The journey takes roughly 2 hours and will set you back about US$70.
While in Guangzhou you can get wherever you want by taxi. Be aware that none of taxi drivers understand even basic English. Unless you’re fluent in Mandarin Chinese I suggest that you print out a note with the address of your hotel and the Canton Fair – in Chinese Characters.
While most nationalities don’t need a visa for entering Hong Kong, you are required to apply for a visa prior entering Mainland China (Japanese and Singaporean citizens are visa exempt). As of today, there is no visa on arrival scheme available, although test schemes are carried out in other parts of China. In case of emergency it’s possible to apply for a Mainland China Visa while in Hong Kong, but this better be avoided since you’re probably better off spending more time at the Canton Fair.
According to the current visa regulations in Mainland China, Canton Fair visitors shall apply for an M-Visa. Such a visa can be obtained as following:
a.) Application without invitation letter (not available in all countries, and requires more documents)
b.) Application with invitation letter issued by a supplier attending the Canton Fair
c.) Application with invitation letter issued by the Canton Fair (read more below)
The easiest way to obtain an M-visa is by making an online application for a Canton Fair Invitation Letter. The Invitation Letter can be used to apply for the appropriate visa. Different procedures apply for new and regular visitors. Follow this link to read more about the Invitation letter application process.
Registration at the Trade Fair Venue
Before you can walk inside you’ll need to register. This is a simple procedure and you’re required to submit information such as the following:
- Company name
- Passport number
Foreigners are required to keep their passport with them according to Chinese regulations. While this is rarely enforced I strongly advise you to keep it on you at all time, especially as it may be required for registration.
How to Successfully Attend the Canton Fair in 4 Steps
Attending a trade show as large as the Canton Fair can be overwhelming. You’ll find hundreds of suppliers showcasing products in the same industry, all competing for your attention. However, suppliers are not created equal and you’re here because you want to find one that’s reliable in terms of quality and regulatory compliance. Without the right preparations, you’ll likely find yourself wasting your time with the wrong suppliers, picking up leads that will kill even more of your time once back in the office. To help you avoid such a situation, that I wrote a 4 step guide on how to successfully attend the Canton Fair:
1. Don’t Waste Time on Suppliers that Are Unable to Ensure Compliance with Standards and Regulations in Your Market
Only a minority of China’s manufacturers are able to ensure compliance with overseas (i.e., European Union and US) safety standards and regulations. Many buyers make the disastrous assumption that the suppliers ‘should’ be aware of the regulations that apply in their markets. That would indeed be ideal, but the reality is far from it. Suppliers that can ensure compliance with overseas regulations are, as said, a minority, and they tend to advertise their capabilities at the trade fair. As you don’t want to waste time with suppliers that are unable to manufacture goods that can be sold in your market, you need to follow this procedure before investing your time at a fair booth:
- Confirm applicable safety standards and regulations for your product, in your market (i.e., R&TTE, CPSIA and REACH)
- Request compliance documents from the supplier on site (i.e. test reports, declaration of conformity and technical files)
- Ask for buyer references in your market
Suppliers refusing to share compliance documents shall not be excused. In the end, words are cheap and you are held legally responsible if compliance issues arise down the road.
2. List all Technical Specifications, Quality and Functional Requirements
‘Good quality’ can only be determined in technical terms. The Canton Fair is an ideal setting for gathering information and feedback on suppliers ability to match your product specifications. However, don’t expect the Chinese sales reps to be proactive. They expect you to ask the right questions, and thus you must list all specifications and request feedback on each one. Nothing is to be taken for granted, so make sure you list everything in your specification, especially when buying OEM products:
- Material Specifications
- Product Packaging
The approach is slightly different when buying ODM (Original Design Manufacturing), or private label, products. However, the same principles still apply. Click here to learn more about quality assurance when buying ODM products.
3. Get Reference Prices
You may ask for a unit price quote during your first meeting. However, consider it a reference price, rather than something that is final. This is especially true when it comes to OEM products. The supplier’s engineers must make time consuming cost calculations, in order to quote an accurate price. While a reference price can be produced ‘on site’ in most cases, a final figure requires up to date quotes from materials and components subcontractors, along with internal calculations.