Export orders down at first full post-pandemic Canton Fair

SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) – The first full return of China’s biggest trade show saw a drop in the value of signed export orders compared to pre-pandemic levels, though the figure still managed to exceed expectations, its organisers said.

Offline export deals signed at the Canton Fair came to $21.69 billion, organisers said on Friday, down almost a third on the $29.73 billion signed in the spring session of the fair in 2019.

The first major trade event since China abruptly dropped draconian COVID-19 curbs and re-opened its borders came as sharply higher borrowing costs in the United States and Europe hit demand for Chinese-made goods.

China’s vice commerce minister, Wang Shouwen, had warned a week before the fair that the foreign trade situation would be “severe and complicated this year.”

The pandemic caused subsequent fairs to be cancelled, moved online, or held without overseas visitors.

Almost 130,000 buyers attended the offline event, the organisers said.

(Reporting by David Kirton in Shenzhen and Ellen Zhang in Beijing; Editing by Stephen Coates)