Trends and News for SMBs | April

Trends and News for SMBs | April
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Keep your business up to speed with the latest news.

China readies for massive Canton Fair’s spring edition 

Guangzhou is preparing to host the most important event in China’s trade fair calendar as it gears up for the Canton Fair – a showcase of a massive array of goods.

As the 135th edition of China’s Import and Export Fair is better known, the Canton Fair is due to take place in the Guangzhou Canton Fair complex over three phases between April 15th and May 5th.

The first phase, which will take place between April 15th and April 19th, will showcase consumer electronics, IT, household electrical appliances, lighting, general machinery, power and construction machinery, agricultural machinery, hardware, and tools. 

Phase 2, from April 23rd to April 27th, will focus on ceramics, household items, kitchenware & tableware, weaving, rattan and iron products, gardening products, home decorations, gifts, clocks, building and decorative materials, and furniture.

Phase 3, from May 1st to May 5th, will showcase textiles, carpets, fashion accessories and fittings, clothing, luggage, health products, office supplies, personal care products, toys, and maternity and children’s products.

The organizers expect more than 28,000 firms to exhibit at this year’s gathering, which will take place on 1.5 million square meters of floor space.

The Canton Fair is held twice a year—in spring and autumn. Last year’s Autumn event, held in October and November, attracted more than 100,000 buyers from over 200 countries worldwide and featured 14,500 booths. 

Buyers can expect to see eye-catching products crafted from recycled material and innovative consumer goods. 

Among the attractions that caught buyers’ eyes at the most recent fair was an innovative home chair made of 41% coffee residue. 

More than 2.7 million products will be uploaded onto the Canton Fair online platform, and nearly 200 trade bridge matchmaking events will be staged. Buyers and suppliers will also have the chance to attend 15 industry activities and 300 product release activities. 

Buyers will also be able to meet Ship4wd representatives in Area D, Booth 17-2.


West Coast ports predict early peak season for 2024

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach expect peak season volumes from Asia to arrive earlier than usual as retailers look to restock depleted inventories, The Loadstar reported. 

2024 has represented a change of fortune for the two San Pedro Bay ports. Last year, many shippers rerouted shipments to East Coast ports, especially New York and New Jersey, away from the West Coast. 

Protracted longshore contract negotiations created the threat of potential industrial action on the West Coast in 2023, leading many shippers to look East. This year, however, West Coast ports are seeing traffic returning, and in September, East Coast dockworkers are due to sign a new contract. As a result, some shippers are rerouting freight West.

At the same time, some ocean carriers have said they anticipate that many retailers will look to refill inventories that have been depleted over the last 12 months and may do so earlier than usual. 

In February this year, the Port of Los Angeles processed 781,434 TEUs, up 60% from the same month last year. That included a 64% jump in import containers.

Neighboring Long Beach saw a 24% year-on-year increase in container throughput to 674,723. Asia-to-US cargo has been less affected on West Coast-bound routes than on those to the East Coast, as vessels do not need to pass through the Red Sea. 

“Don’t be surprised if we see peak season cargo in the west coast a little bit earlier than usual,” said Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka, as reported by The Loadstar. “Here in LA, we are running at about 75% to 80% of capacity and are ready to pivot to handle whatever comes our way.

“Importers don’t want to be the last people to shift cargo to another gateway, should market conditions change, so we are starting to see companies talking about shifting 2%, 3% or 5% of their business to different gateways to diversify,” he added, according to the publication.

Some shippers and analysts have feared whether the San Pedro Bay ports can handle additional volumes. However, both ports have assured customers they have capacity and have learned valuable lessons from supply chain disruptions during the pandemic.

Vietnam counts benefits of export resurgence 

Vietnam has been the most prominent regional beneficiary of improvement in growth in export demand in Q4 2023, according to McKinsey

The consultancy’s Southeast Asia Quarterly Economic Review said Southeast Asia’s economies had exhibited robust performance in the quarter, with all economies seeing growth.

However, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand saw the most robust growth. Malaysia and the Philippines grew at a slower pace. 

The review expressed optimism for 2024 for the entire region, forecasting better performance for significant economies, an uptick in consumption, and a rebound in international tourism. However, McKinsey reported that the external environment remains highly uncertain and fragile.

“Geopolitical tensions such as that between China and the US continue to be prevalent. Recessionary risks exist in major economies in Europe and the United States, and the economic prospects in China are uncertain,” the report claimed. 

Vietnam was the best-performing economy in the quarter, growing at 6.7%. However, trade across the region was a mixed bag in the same period. Exports from Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam performed particularly well, but those from Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore declined following lower commodity demand. 

Vietnam’s Q4 performance benefited especially from a strong recovery in exports and represented the country’s best quarterly performance since 2019. Nevertheless, overall GDP growth for 2023 is still hovering around 5% year on year. This is below the government’s target of 6.5% and sufficiently significantly lower than the 8% growth seen in 2022. 

Weak global demand and the stalling of public investments amid an intensive anti-graft crackdown took its toll on the economy in 2023, McKinsey reported.

Thailand also saw its fourth-quarter exports rebound even as the economy expanded at a modest pace of 1.7% yearly. 

Indonesia saw exports increase in the quarter – reversing the decrease seen in the previous quarter.

Strong overall exports and demand from Indonesia’s main training trading partners, China, India, and the US, mitigated falling prices for its key commodities.


Malaysia’s manufacturers gear up for export recovery 

The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) anticipates export-led recovery as global economic conditions ease, the Malaysian National News Agency Bernama reports.

The Federation believes demand for manufacturing-led exports is recovering, and Malaysia is set for economic growth of between 4% and 5% in 2024 – more likely towards the lower end of official forecasts.

In March this year, the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) also reported a surge in international demand. 

Show organizer Informa Markets Malaysia told Bername that the event had filled its venue, the Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre (MITEC) and World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur (WTCKL) to capacity in early March.  

In 2023, the four-day event posted a record 19% rise in orders – reaching $1.21 billion. This year, it was set to host 17 halls spanning 100,000 sqm, showcasing exhibitors from Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the US, and Vietnam. 

Organizers say the event offered Southeast Asia’s biggest export showroom of Malaysian solid wood furniture and office furniture

Muar Furniture Association (MFA) president Steve Ong told the publication that “more buyers with significant buying power are coming to MIFF, which is good for business growth.

“As the furniture city of Malaysia, Muar is home to Malaysia’s biggest furniture makers and exporters. We are ready to showcase the newest and wide variety of products to international buyers and explore new emerging markets to expand our global footprint.”

Since 1995, MIFF has led to sales of US$18.4b and hosted 182,000 buyers.


Inaugural Vietnam trade fair offers a one-stop shop for textile buyers 

The inaugural Vietnam International Trade Fair for Apparel, Textiles, and Textile Technologies (VIATT) has positioned itself as a must-attend event for apparel buyers interested in sourcing from Southeast Asia, Textile World reports.

Messe Frankfurt’s first integrated textile fair in Asia covered the entire textile value chain, attracting 17,262 visits from 55 countries and regions. The event connected buyers with 409 exhibitors from 17 countries and regions. 

According to Textile World reports, Detlef Braun, an Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt GmbH member, described Vietnam as a “rising hotspot” for the textile industry. 

Among the events for attendees was the VIATT Fashion Show that featured brands, including well-known Vietnamese designer Kilomet 109, under the theme of “Sustainable Fashion, Around the World.”

The organizers quoted Raymond Kong, Market Development Manager—Asia Pacific, Testex Swiss Textile-Testing, saying, “Vietnam has a large textile industry, not only for garments but also for home textiles and accessories.”

“This show is a very good idea, as all the buyers want to visit Vietnam, and here they can visit the whole industry together. Every buyer is looking for a sustainability strategy, but they want a partner to support them in planning and achieving their goals,” the publication reported. 

Kong said that the quality of yarns and fabrics in Vietnam is fast improving.

The event spanned 15,000 square meters of exhibition space across two halls, covering apparel fabrics, yarns and fibers, garments, home textiles, technical textiles and nonwovens, textile processing, and printing technology. Many of the industry’s most well-known players had attended, the organizers said. 

The next edition of VIATT will be held from February 26-28, 2025.


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