Visitors at the household items pavilion during the 2014 Canton Fair in Guangzhou. The Canton Fair, also known as the China Import and Export Fair, is the largest and longest running trade fair in China, having been held in Guangzhou twice a year since April 1957. The fair brings together over 220,000 vendors and buyers from over 200 countries and regions around the world annually. 

Visitors at the household items pavilion during the 2014 Canton Fair in Guangzhou. The Canton Fair, also known as the China Import and Export Fair, is the largest and longest running trade fair in China, having been held in Guangzhou twice a year since April 1957. The fair brings together over 220,000 vendors and buyers from over 200 countries and regions around the world annually. 


Economy

General Background

The third largest city in mainland China and a designated "National Center City", Guangzhou is an economic powerhouse, inextricably linked to the qualities of openness, development, and innovation. As one of the first cities to be involved in the economic "reform and opening" transformation of the 1980s, Guangzhou has developed swiftly over the last three decades, becoming a key transport hub, manufacturing core, and trade center in South China today.

GDP of Guangzhou from 2011 - 2016 (in Billions USD)

In recent years, new measures designed to upgrade industrial infrastructure and promote service-sector industries have led to rapid economic growth for the city. Over the last five years, Guangzhou's GDP has grown at an average rate of about 9% per annum, reaching a total of 295.24 billion USD in 2016. This figure places Guangzhou third among cities in mainland China and among the top 20 worldwide, on par with cities such as Houston and São Paolo. 


Industry Composition

Economic Sector Breakdown of Guangzhou in 2016

As of 2016, Guangzhou's economic activity consists of 1.2% Agriculture / 30.2% Industry / 68.6% Services.

In terms of industry, Guangzhou is known primarily for its production and transport capabilities, serving as one of the main manufacturing and shipping hubs in China. Some of the city’s top industries include:

  • Automotives
  • Petrochemicals
  • Commercial exhibition 
  • Energy production
  • Logistics
  • Pharmaceuticals 
  • Rail/Ship/Aviation/Aerospace equipment

With recent policy changes and the establishment of new, specially designated economic zones, the city has also seen dramatic growth in new, service-sector industries, most notably:

  • Biomedical technology
  • Finance
  • Industrial design
  • Next-generation information technology 
  • Cultural and creative industry

Looking to the future, the government has implemented reforms to further support the development of advanced industries and encourage innovation & entrepreneurship within the city. 


International Trade & Investment

As one of the most developed industrial centers in China, Guangzhou is a nexus of both international trade and investment.

In terms of trade, Guangzhou has consistently outperformed both Guangdong province and the rest of the country, recording a total import and export volume of 128.98 billion USD in 2016. It currently ranks 6th and 7th worldwide for largest annual cargo throughput and largest annual container throughput respectively, having reached 540 million tons / 18.85 million TEUs of throughput last year.

Guangzhou Import & Export by Continent in 2016

In 2016, over 1,700 new foreign direct investment enterprises and institutions were set up in Guangzhou, representing a 22.95% increase over last year, and nearly 6 billion USD of foreign capital was utilized. 93.8% of these enterprises were service-sector related, with the vast majority of them involved in information technology, finance, or business services. In addition, the top five sources of foreign direct investment came from Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and the United States, comprising more than 90% of the total foreign capital utilized. 

With such confluence of strong industry, trade, infrastructure, and policy, Guangzhou has long been an ideal location to conduct business. Over 320 different international enterprises, including 288 Fortune Global 500 companies, have established regional branch headquarters in the city and have initiated hundreds of projects and collaborations in the process.

Below are just a few examples: