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The Canton Fair 2023: What Importers & Exporters Need to Know

The 133rd Canton Fair is currently scheduled to open in the spring months of April and May 2023. Here’s what you need to know before attending.

The Canton Fair, officially called as the China Import and Export Fair, is the largest, oldest, and arguably the most important biannual trade fair in international trade. Held in China, the Fair is hosted by the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China and the People's Government of Guangdong Province.

Organised by the China Foreign Trade Centre, the Canton Fair is held in Guangzhou, China every spring and autumn season of the year. It is often referred to as simply the Autumn Fair.

Since 1957, different exhibitors of various industries from all over the world have gathered in this event to showcase their products with a view to doing business - including exporting their products to overseas customers.

The previous Canton Fair - the 132nd - was held online in three phases from 15 October to 4 November. This year, the 133rd Canton Fair is scheduled to be held both onsite and online on the following dates:

Phase 1: 15-19 April 2023, 9:30-18:00

Phase 2: 23-27 April 2023, 9:30-18:00

Phase 3: 1-5 May 2023, 9:30-18:00

Why should you get involved in the Canton Fair?

This enormous trade fair is the ultimate get-together of industries to import and export with companies and manufacturers in China.

With more than 200,000 visitors from around 200 countries, we expect that the fair will become an excellent platform for businesses across the world to expand their sourcing networks.

Companies in countries such as the United States of America, Europe, and Australia should definitely be interested in this globally recognised trading event – and use it to seek opportunities in the world of international commerce.

Aside from that, this foreigner-friendly trade show is known to have a rich and long history of openness of its market to global trade. This means that businesses from Western countries are very much well-received in this large-scale event, where they can freely build personal relationships and business partnerships with other countries. They can also meet current and potential suppliers for their businesses to establish rapport with them. It practically acts as an efficient and borderless platform to buy and sell.

Finally, the Canton Fair can act as a starting point for Western businesses who are seeking success in China. Aside from offering an opportunity for Western businesses to develop business relationships with Chinese manufacturers, the Fair will also open doors for them to enter the Chinese market.

How to register for the Canton Fair

Registration for the Canton Fair is free. However, if you’re an overseas buyer and want to attend the Fair onsite, you’ll need an invitation, a Chinese visa and a buyers badge. This is the only way you can attend the Fair officially.

1) Your invitation. You have to apply for an invitation to the Canton Fair before you can register for the event. Registration may be done through their official Canton Fair website, the Canton Fair Call Centre, the People’s Republic of China Embassy in your region, or through Chinese foreign trade corporations.

2) Your visa. Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a country that has a visa-free policy with China, you’ll need a visa. The most common for business is the “M” visa. You can usually apply for a visa via the Chinese embassy.

3) Your buyer badge. If you plan on attending the fair onsite, you need to apply for a Buyer Badge to enter the Canton Fair Complex.

Phases of the Canton Fair

The Canton Fair is divided into three different phases.

Phase 1 (15-19 April 2023):

  • Electronics & Household Electrical Appliances
  • Lighting Equipment
  • Vehicles & Spare Parts
  • Machinery, Hardware & Tools
  • Energy + Resources
  • Chemical Products
  • Building Materials
  • International Pavilion

Phase 2 (23-27 April 2023):

  • Consumer Goods
  • Gifts
  • Home Decorations

Phase 3 (1-5 May 2023):

  • Office Supplies
  • Cases & Bags
  • Recreation Products
  • Medical Devices and Health Products
  • Food
  • Shoes
  • Textiles & Garments
  • International Pavilion

Your checklist for the Canton Fair

If you’re looking to attend the Canton Fair, then it’s important to be prepared before you go. There’s a lot to do at the Fair, much to see and much information to collect.

We suggest that you:

  • Decide which phase you’ll attend. The Canton Fair is split into three phases, which we’ve outlined above. Do your research about the different business categories that will be included in each phase, so you can appropriately pick the best one for you and your needs.

  • Get your visa, buyers’ badge and registration secured. We’ve outlined how to do this above.

  • Book your flights and accommodation. Make sure to prioritise booking your flight and your hotels. Travel dates and the location of where you’re staying will likely be required when you apply for a visa. There is a tonne of excellent accommodation in the country so make sure to get the spot that’s right for you.

  • Book factory visits. Generate a list of suppliers that you plan to check out and secure a schedule to visit their factories. That way, you’ll be able to inspect the quality of the products yourself.

  • Get your business cards ready. Get as many copies of your business cards ready as possible, so you can exchange credentials with potential business partners and suppliers.

  • Organise cash & currency. Prepare your budget for your stay in China. You’ll obviously be spending money at the Canton Fair, but you might want to do a little touring on the side. Have your cash ready in Yuan if you can.

  • Get your wishlist ready. Avoid going to the show to blindly search for products. Get your wish list ready and write all types of products that you’re looking for. You can also include questions to ask the suppliers regarding the products.


Now that the Canton Fair is available to attend in person, it is a ‘must-attend’ event for anyone involved in international trade. Participating in the Fair will be an excellent opportunity to meet and exchange with the Chinese market and can generate ideas for you to expand your business in ways you may never have considered before.

If you’re looking to know more about the Canton Fair, get in touch with our team here at the Sourcing Co and we’ll be more than happy to assist. You can also find more information on the Canton Fair’s official website.
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