The opening day of the China Import and Export Fair on Monday, which is considered a barometer of the country's foreign trade situation, saw fewer people attending due to the lackluster trade situation.
Forecasts for the number of participants, including buyers and exhibitors, as well as turnover, are "not optimistic", said Liu Jianjun, a spokesman for the event, which is also known as the Canton Fair.
Liu attributed the situation to flagging external demand, rising trade frictions, the rising value of the yuan, and seasonal factors.
"Importers from emerging economies, such as Latin America and Africa, tend to purchase extensively in the spring session. And the strained Sino-Japanese relationship also took a toll on bilateral trade," Liu said.
The event is held twice a year, in the spring and in autumn. This autumn's fair is being held from Oct 15 to Nov 4.
About 54 percent of the exporters who applied to participate in the event have been allowed to take part, which according to Liu, reflects the exporters' increasing willingness to tap overseas markets.
"The low approval rate shows that amid the tremendous uncertainties of the economic environment, Chinese companies are still eager to explore the international market," Liu said.
Some 24,288 exporters are expected to participate in the fair, 164 more than at the last session. Up to 552 importers from 44 countries and regions will take part in the fair, 32 more than at the last session.
Most of the importers come from South Korea, India, Malaysia and Turkey, according to the event's organizers.
Number of participants and turnover figures will be released at the end of the fair.
Another sign of the grim foreign trade situation is the oversupply of interpreters at the fair.
Outside the Guangzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center, casual employment centers were full of college students seeking interpreter jobs, an indication of fewer foreign buyers.
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