China opens the doors of its massive Canton Fair

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The Independent Online

The spring edition of mainland China's biggest fair kicked off Thursday, April 15, boasting a record number of exhibitors and a new format that sees the event spread over three separate sessions.

The China Import and Export Fair ( - known more commonly over its 53-year existence as simply the Canton Fair - this year sees almost 23,000 Chinese export companies exhibiting and around 400 international companies from 27 countries and regions.

Spread out over the massive grounds of the China Import and Export Fair Complex in the southern city of Guangzhou, the fair will run from until Monday, April 19, then again from April 23 to 27 and finally from May 1 to 5. The event also holds an edition in the autumn - at dates still to be decided.

Organizers say they were forced to spread the spring event out due to the sheer numbers of people wanting to attend after numbers reached 200,000 per day last year.

The three sessions have been designed to support specific sections of China's export industry - beginning with electronic and household goods, lighting, and machinery, then covering gifts, consumer goods and home decorations before finishing up with the likes of textiles and garments, shoes and bags.

According to figures from China's General Administration of Customs, the country's exports grew in March for the fourth straight month - up 24.3 percent year-on-year, thereby accounting for US$112.11 billion (83 billion euros).