China Trade Shows Part 1: Visit China Suppliers in Hong Kong
By Peter Zapf
VP Community Development, Global sources
Buying Product Direct from China
Sooner or later businesses looking to grow their sales, whether online or
offline, start thinking about sourcing products from China suppliers. The
access to a wider range of products with a wider range of price points is
often valuable in extending a business' product range. But how do you find
these China suppliers? You have several choices:
- You can deal with China suppliers via email, which avoids having to travel
to China, but makes it more difficult to learn about different suppliers'
capabilities and which ones will best meet your needs.
- You can find suppliers and visit them one at a time at their offices or
factories, but this can get expensive and time consuming. The cost of
flights to China will add up, and moving around from city to city while
dealing with the language barrier is not an easy task.
- Or, you can meet suppliers at a China trade show dedicated to bring
together global buyers with suppliers from China and Asia.
Visiting a trade show has a lot of advantages; even more so because many of
them are held in Hong Kong, which still combines the best of both China and
the western world. The
China Sourcing Fairs are hosted by
Global Sources also has an
online directory of China suppliers (with
verified suppliers who have been physically visited 3 or more times) and the
Global Sources Direct online wholesale shopping site good for folks with
less import experience.
Visiting Hong Kong for a trade show – how difficult is it?
The world's buyers have been flocking to Hong Kong for decades to find
suppliers of products that they need for their business. Why? Because Hong
Kong really is a modern, world class city.
Having been a British colony for the better part of a century (until 1997),
English continues to be commonly used. The vast majority of people speak
English, and most directional signage is also in English. The language
barrier is non-existent at best, minimal at worst. Also, Hong Kong maintains
the western legal system it had prior to the handover to China, giving it a
strong rule of law.
An airline ticket from the U.S. will likely cost close to US$1,500 for round
trip economy airfare. When you arrive, the airport itself is modern,
efficient and world-class. It's got 60+ gates, most of which are filled with
big Boeing 747s. It also has free Wi-Fi, good restaurants and lots of
shopping in case you need to spend some time there. The airport is one of
the busiest in Asia and acts as a hub for much of Southeast Asia.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a better variety of food anywhere. If you
need western food, you can find everything from Ruth's Chris steakhouse to
McDonalds. Of course, you'll really want to try the Chinese food (which is
far better than what passes for Chinese food in most U.S. Chinese
restaurants) or any of the other international cuisine available, including
Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Middle Eastern and Italian, to
name a few.
Hotels in Hong Kong are first-rate, although getting more and more expensive
– you'll probably pay between US$100 and $200 per night, although you can
find both more expensive and cheaper. Think of getting a hotel room in a
city like New York, and the prices will be somewhat comparable. Shop around
and book early in order to get a room – trade show season (October and
April) is very busy, hotels fill up quickly and charge premium rates. Two
sites that can help you find hotels are Asia Hotels (www.asiahotels.com) and
You don't need a rental car - public transportation is very good, among the
best in the world. Taxis, the subway and public buses can get you everywhere
you want to go. For example, from the airport you can take a taxi, bus or
subway (Airport Express) to get to your hotel, all very clean and modern.
Hong Kong uses the Hong Kong Dollar, which has an exchange rate of about
US$1 = HK$7.75. The currency is freely convertible, so you can exchange at
the airport or in any of the small foreign exchange shops. You don't need to
bring much cash with you. Credit cards like Visa, MasterCard and American
Express are widely accepted and the widely prevalent ATM machines interface
with virtually all overseas ATM networks. Do check how much your bank will
charge you for an international withdrawal though.
There is quite a lot to see while off work. Some favorites include a visit
to the old Chinese temples, a ride on the peak tram and the Star Ferry both
of which provide great city views, or walking through the interesting
museums including the Museum of Art and History and the Museum of Science
and Space. For nature lovers, a hike on the outlying islands or in the New
Territories provides an opportunity to get away from the big city.
U.S. citizens don't need a Visa to enter Hong Kong, just your passport. If
you do plan on visiting factories or other tradeshows in mainland China, you
will need to get a Visa to enter mainland China.
Because of all of this, Hong Kong has become a gateway between the east and
west. Because it's so easy for everyone to travel and meet in Hong Kong, the
city has become a primary host of trade shows with China Suppliers.
So, getting to Hong Kong is easy and a great experience...Part 2 will cover
what you can expect to find when you attend one of the China Sourcing Fairs,
held every April and October including the types of questions you can be
asking suppliers. If you can't wait and need to find suppliers before
attending the show you can use the
Global Sources web site to find
China suppliers. If you are new to importing, check with the
website. Information for
importing into other countries is available under "customs web sites" on the
World Customs Organization site.