Canton Fair: China’s new energy exporters abuzz as orders swell, threat of trade curbs looms


Those sentiments were reflected in the turnout, with a marked increase in those attending from abroad.

We believe that business does business and politicians do politics

Steven Selikoff

More than 87,800 overseas buyers and around 28,600 Chinese exhibitors – 91 per cent from the private sector – were present for the first two days of the event, fair organisers said. This was an 21.8 per cent increase in overseas participants from the previous session in November.

“The world is interested in green technology, and it is nice to see that the Canton Fair has put such a focus on that,” said Steven Selikoff, an American importer on the hunt for consumer electronics and green products.

Washington has joined the European Union to meet head-on the challenge presented by China’s robust export of new energy products.

During her second visit to China in nine months, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said China’s industrial overcapacity, especially in new energy sectors, presents threats to US industry and employment.

But none of that was enough to deter Selikoff from seeking opportunities in China. “[Yellen] was here just two weeks ago, but we believe that business does business and politicians do politics,” he said.

He was not alone. Among those already registered, the number of US importers attending the fair rose more than 20 per cent from the autumn session, with those from countries involved in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade pact and the Middle East increasing by 15.5 and 24.7 per cent respectively.

“We feel the market is recovering,” said Ella Zheng, sales director of Skytimes. Zheng’s company produces lithium-ion portable power stations as well as backyard and wall-mounted solar power systems.

The company obtained more than 50 new customers and signed deals worth more than US$10 million at the previous session of the fair, and expects to double that during the current session, Zheng said.


‘Overtaking on a bend’: how China’s EV industry charged ahead to dominate the global market

‘Overtaking on a bend’: how China’s EV industry charged ahead to dominate the global market

Geopolitical complications have impacted the activities of Chinese exporters and they have to respond more quickly to changes in logistics, delivery and payment methods, Zheng said.

“Judging from the first day of the fair, there are a lot more buyers than last year. We sent invitations to all our customers and most replied that they would come,” said Chen Lijun, sales manager of Hebei Nonferrous Metals.

“Demand from Europe and the US is picking up as inventory is dropping. Quite a few American clients said they would come, and we expect them to place orders to cope with risks of punitive tariffs and other trade restrictions on Chinese products after their presidential election.”

China produced 2.07 million new energy cars in the first three months of 2024, up 30 per cent from the previous year and representing a 31 per cent share of the country’s total car production, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The country also produced enough solar panels to generate 126 million kilowatts of energy during the same period, up 20 per cent from a year earlier.

“I have already placed orders for three containers this morning, including solar products, batteries, windmills and inverters, [and] my colleague is searching for glass, windows, doors, flooring and building material,” said Tony Ferris, a buyer from Australia on Monday.

“It takes time to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, but China has done very well.”

The truth is businesses can thrive from overcapacity … There’s an opportunity now to get cheaper products

Jack Perry

As Chinese producers face more competition, prices are expected to drop further, which some attendees said would also benefit overseas buyers.

“The truth is businesses can thrive from overcapacity,” said Jack Perry, chairman of the 48 Group Club, a British trade organisation. “There’s an opportunity now to get cheaper products.”

Karl Xu, deputy general manager of Zhejiang Times Solar Technology Co, said he believed China’s photovoltaic (PV) products are irreplaceable – at least in the short term – and expected a 20 per cent increase in overseas orders year on year in 2024.

“With the falling cost, PV products are also [becoming] affordable for some developing countries,” Xu said, expressing doubt pressures from the West would be enough to depress global demand.

“Europe and the United States also need China’s high-quality, low-priced PV products to accelerate their energy transition.”


Read More: Canton Fair: China’s new energy exporters abuzz as orders swell, threat of trade curbs looms

2024-04-16 22:00:24

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