Hours after the Canton Fair opened on Monday morning, Ying Wenjun remained sitting idly in his booth, waiting for inquiries from potential clients.
Ying is the owner of Shanghai Junda Auto Decoration Co Ltd, a privately owned business which Ying claims is the country's largest in manufacturing auto decoration accessories such as seat cushions.
"There are so few visitors to our booth," Ying complained. "I've attended the fair so many times over the years, and I've rarely seen a situation like this. It's much worse than in the spring session."
Chinese export-oriented manufacturers like Shanghai Junda are feeling the pinch brought by fading foreign demand amid a sluggish global economy.
China's foreign trade in the first three quarters of this year rose a mere 6.2 percent to $2.84 trillion, in great contrast with the 20.3-percent growth registered for 2011, according to figures released by the General Administration of Customs on Saturday.
Exports in September unexpectedly surged 9.9 percent from a year ago to a record monthly high of $186.35 billion, as against a year-on-year gain of 2.7 percent in August.
Imports in September also rose 2.4 percent year-on-year after consecutive falls over the previous three months.
Economic experts, however, are cautiously optimistic about the trade rebound in September, among mixed feeling.
Liu Jianjun, spokesman for the Canton Fair, said the bounce was mainly due to the huge amount of overseas orders ahead of the Christmas shopping season, and future trade would continue to sag.
"The foreign trade situation over the next few months will remain grim as the global economy is still in a downturn," Liu said.
Others, however, contend that the momentum will sustain for a while thanks to a slew of preferential policies from the central government to boost trade.
News we recommend:
House prices nudge upward in September
Islands dispute benefits carmakers' competitors
Ice train begins trial operations
Falsely labeled crabs upset the market
A Boon to the Economy
'Right time' for London to build RMB business
Global economic woes mire China in trade rows
Solar firms cut employees
Making due contributions to world economy