Is Guangzhou on your radar?
We talk to many businesses who are enthusiastic about exporting and are "doing China". But after a few more searching questions, we often find that they have maybe a couple of orders from a single dealer or that they have attended a show and got a few enquiries.
One of the interesting questions to Western Companies is " When you think of China, where exactly are you thinking about?" China is after all a huge country and made up of many provinces, all with their own cultural identitity. So do Western companies think of the whole country when really they arereally only thinking of main cities.
For most Western companies business in China seems to be based around Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, Beijing for political connections and Shanghai and Hong Kong for trade. All these cities have strong links with the West but are they the only places to consider when entering the market?
Creating business in China requires an appreciation of geography, culture and potential opportunities. Few companies can ever really cover the whole country from a single city and for new comers it is not really wise to even start that way.
One city that for some unexplained reason does not always feature high on the list of "doing China" is Guangzhou.
Maybe the Chinese name is not so familiar, even airlines do not seem to use the name in their codes but rather go for the older name, Canton. Many people will be aware that the two main spoken dialects in China are Mandarin and Cantonese. Also many people will have heard of the very famous Canton Fair - probably the biggest trade show in the world. But again the connection is with the old name rather than the new.
Yet for all this Guangzhou is a major trading centre in China and is the administrative centre for Guangdong Province covering the key manufacturing region based around the Pearl River Delta.
So lets have a look at some facts and figures about Guangzhou (provided by Guangzhou Municipal Board for International Investment)
In the middle of the 18th Century all foreign trade with China was restricted to Canton and by the middle of the 19th century it was one of of five "treaty ports" open to unrestricted trade. Interestingly the name Guangzhou was adopted in 1918 and so, whilst people remember Canton, it is hardly a new name.
As China developed its international trade Guangzhou with its proximity to Hong Kong and access to the Pearl River became a key trading region for Southern China and is now one of, if not the most prosperous region of China. With great transport links to the major cities of Shenzhen Dongguan and Foshan together with a number of rapidly growing cities there is a conurbation of around 120 million people within a 2 hour train journey, meaning that it has a huge potential market for overseas products. There is even a high speed rail link to Beijing now
The Pearl River delta is a hive of industrial activity and is one of the leading wealth generating regions in the country. Guangzhou's relatively new Baiyun Airport is one of the three biggest in China and has good flight connections with the West.
Many companies, from all over China have offices in Guangzhou and even though they may not manufacture there, they can trade from these offices.
We chose Guangzhou for our own China Office initially because of its proximity to the ceramics industry which was where we started. As we have grown we are now involved in more industries and have found that we can access both buyers and suppliers without the need to travel too far.
The Pazhou Exhibition Centre on the outskirts of Guangzhou is now one of the worlds biggest and hosts a vast array of both national and international events on a weekly basis and is home to the biannual Canto Fair.
So when thinking of China, consider Guangzhou as a gateway into this fascinating market
Anderen Ltd work with Western and Chinese companies who want to do business together by providing a wide range of essential support services from their office in the iconic IFC Building in the heart of Guangzhou's Business District
85 Blurton Road
Tel: 01782 326027