You may have noticed over the past several years, when you go to a store to buy something, a large percentage of the products come from China. Whether you are shopping at a discount retailer, or a high-end department store, most of those products are made in China.
Throughout the MENA region, traders, buyers, distributors and purchasing teams from large-scale, multinational retailers have been turning to manufacturers in China as the first stop in their product-buying process. When considering price and quality, China is the benchmark by which all other markets are compared.
For the past few years, buyers in the MENA region have participating in Dubai’s China Sourcing Fair (May 31 – June 2, 2011, at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre) as a way to meet with a large selection of China suppliers without having to travel to Asia to do it. Now in its fifth year, the Fair is the largest China-products exhibition in the Middle East.
Some of the largest shows of their kind
Launched in Shanghai in 2005, the China Sourcing Fairs quickly caught on in other key markets around the world. Today they are some of the largest China-products events in the markets where they are organized, including Hong Kong, India, South Africa and certainly Dubai. Though organized in different parts of the world, the events have one focus: To provide buyers with direct, face-to-face access to a large number of Greater China (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan) suppliers. The Dubai show features exhibitors that produce consumer electronics, gifts and premiums, home products, garments & textiles, children’s products, and hardware and building materials.
Dubai: The center of trade in MENA
According to the organizers, Global Sources, Dubai was the logical city in which to organize the event five years ago. Dubai follows only Hong Kong and Singapore to be the world’s third-largest re-export market. “For this side of the earth, much of the region’s international trade goes through Dubai,” says Bill Janeri, General Manager at Global Sources. “So to meet our objective of organizing the show closer to where buyers in MENA are or want to be, Dubai was the logical choice. It is centrally located, has a strong multicultural business community, and has an international-trade focus.”
Forefront Electronic Technologies, a China-based maker of GPS devices, printed circuit boards, and speakers, have been working with buyers in the region for years. The company offers buyers a 100% guarantee on its products. “We look to Global Sources and the Dubai China Sourcing Fair as a way to expand our network of customers in the region, as we help those customers expand their business,” said Flanks Lin, General Manager at the company.
“We’ve been working with customers in the region for more than 10 years. Over that time we’ve learned a lot about how companies here operate and how our products can best serve their customers’ needs. It’s been a positive experience,” says Lin.
Many markets in the region are already importing a significant amount of products from China. But in more developing markets here, this trade with China is really just taking off. “As an economy stabilizes and expands so does its middle class. A growing middle class brings more disposable income and growing demand for consumer products – like mobile phones, large-screen TVs, and nice items for the house,” says Janeri.
“At the same time, in many of these markets, the product distribution systems are becoming more sophisticated. These markets are making the transition from “Mom & Pop” shops, to networks of world-class retail outlets on par with those in any other market in the world. To fill those shelves, importers and purchasing managers look to China for well-made products at price points where the retailer has more flexibility with the margin it charges.”
At the same time, China’s suppliers are quickly adapting to continually shifting product trends, such as those in environmentally friendly “green” products.
“For nearly 10 years, we’ve been exporting to buyers in the MENA region, including Dubai, Doha and Oman,” says Shengyang Chen, General Manager at Zhejiang Ruiming Energy-saving Doors & Windows. “Energy-efficient doors and windows are our specialty. As buyers focus on green technologies in their new builds, we feel our products can only benefit their new construction projects. We see the hardware & building materials section of the China Sourcing Fair as an opportunity to meet new buyers from the Middle East and to help them meet this demand,” added Chen.
With the emergence of the Internet over the past 15 years, trade around the globe has never been easier. Trade shows, however, still play a critical role in the product-sourcing and supplier-evaluation process.
For the past 40 years, Global Sources (www.globalsources.com) has built its business on bringing together the world’s buyers with Asian manufacturers. “Email and the Internet have certainly made trade easier and faster,” says Janeri. “However, when you’re investing thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of U.S. dollars with a supplier, ultimately you want to sit across the table from them and look them in the eye. You want to see how they operate. You want to meet the management team you’ll be working with. You want to evaluate, face-to-face, whether this is a company you can work with. By bringing these suppliers to the buyer, the China Sourcing Fairs make that part of the process so much easier than it has even been in the past,” added Janeri.
“The brands behind the brands”
China produces a dominant share of many of the world’s consumer products. Over the past 20 years, the quality of those products has improved exponentially. Today, many of China’s exporters operate at ISO standards and have various international product-safety certifications.
“It is no longer the case of ‘Can China produce it?’ – China already produces it. The question today is about what level of quality the buyer wants. And what quality level that buyer’s customers are demanding … or are willing to accept,” says Janeri.
“Many of the exhibitors at our China Sourcing Fairs have been exporting globally for years – and for some of them, decades. They are the brands behind the brands, manufacturing products for some of the world’s leading companies. By coming to Dubai as part of the China Sourcing Fair, these companies are hoping to meet and do business with buyers in the region they don’t know and who don’t know them.”
“We’ve been exporting around the world for more than 22 years, but we’ve only just recently started to focus on the MENA market,” says Guanqun Wu, Sales Manager at FuJian Quanzhou Peak Sports Products, which produces for multinational brands, including PEAK sports apparel.
“This is a region where demand for sporting goods is expanding rapidly. We feel with our long history and brand leadership, buyers in the region will find great quality and value in our product line. And we’re anxious to work with them so that they do,” said Wu.
Learn more about the Dubai China Sourcing Fair at: www.chinasourcingfair.com/dubai.