East met West on Thursday at the opening of the three-day China Sourcing Fair in Miami Beach as Asian sellers connected with thousands of potential buyers from the Americas.
The fair is located in South Florida to take advantage of the Latin American and Caribbean markets as well as U.S. buyers who target the Latin American market.
About 10,000 buyers preregistered, and more are expected for the event, which features everything from wearable technology such as a combo watch/pedometer, smartphones and tablet computers to wrapping paper, toilet seats and hardware.
Many of the goods on display at the Miami Beach Convention Center may end up in stores for the next Christmas season, but consumers won’t be able to get a preview. The fair is strictly for trade-show buyers.
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The 400 companies from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong that are showcasing their products are “looking for people who will buy 10,000 pieces a month, container-loads full of merchandise,” said Bill Janeri, who organized the fair for Hong-Kong-based Global Sources.
The names of some of the exhibiting companies reflected their high hopes for boosting trade. Among them were the Foshan Ever Rising Trading Co., the Wise Rich Co., the Dongguan Fly Far Industrial Investment Co. and Xiamen Glory Bright Star Electronics.
The Miami Beach fair is one of many China Sourcing events that Global Sources holds in China and around the world, but it is the only one in the United States.
Miami is appealing because it is a crossroads for Latin America, said Janeri, Global Sources’ general manager for developing markets. “We do the fair here because it’s the center of trade for all of Latin America.”
Between the thousands of buyers and the 1,200 to 1,500 exhibitors, Global Sources estimates the fair has an $8 million to $9 million economic impact on South Florida.
Last year, the Miami Customs District, which stretches from Palm Beach County to Key West, had $6.65 billion in trade with China — making China the district’s fourth-most-important trading partner. In addition, the district registered $1.15 billion in trade with Hong Kong and $580 million with Taiwan.
As the economies of Latin America grow, expanding the middle class, people have more disposable income to spend on themselves and their families, Janeri said.
“Thirty years ago, Europe and the United States were our most important markets. But now new markets like Latin America, Africa and the Middle East are becoming important,” said Ma Hua, deputy director general of the Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of Guangdong Province.
The province in southeast China, bordering Hong Kong, is a manufacturing powerhouse. Annual exports and imports for the province alone total $1 trillion, said Ma.
“In the past two years, the business relationship and transactions with our new markets represent our highest growth in international trade — double-digit growth,” he said.
This year’s hot products for Latin America, said Janeri, are fashion accessories and garments and, as always, electronics.
“This year, the buzz is wearables,” Janeri said as he pulled up his sleeve to display a watch that also keeps track of his daily physical activity.