By  on November 10, 2009

KEQIAO, China — The recent edition of the China Keqiao International Textile Expo might not have been a blockbuster, but it helped secure the city, known as China Textile City, as an important center of fabric production, particularly dyeing and printing.

Some exhibitors said the event’s chronological and geographic proximity to the larger Intertextile Shanghai fair, combined with the sluggish economy, dampened results. However, others said the fair, which is in its 10th year and was held Oct. 25 to 28, maintained its place as an important niche event for the domestic Chinese and greater Asian — particularly Middle Eastern and Korean — textile industries. Organizers said attendance was up more than 17 percent to 23,998, with 5,820 foreign buyers, an almost 38 percent gain from a year ago.

The fair attracted 1,306 exhibitors, including 107 international companies, mostly those with offices and operations in Keqiao. There was also some representation from nearby Jiangsu Province, a major textile producer.

“This is the only fair we come to because it suits our customers,” said Cathy Wang, an assistant at Shaoxing County Qianlong, a Keqiao-based export company that trades entirely with the Middle East, especially Egypt and Iran. “We come every year, and see both our regular and new customers here.”

The growth of Eastern China’s textile industry has coincided with an expansion of trade fairs in hub cities, which struggle to distinguish themselves and attract participation.

“This fair is pretty good because it’s professional and the position is good,” said Yu Bo, an editor at TexNet.com.cn, a trade Web site represented at all of China’s textile fairs. “What’s different about this is the location. Most of the fairs are in Beijing and Shanghai, and Shanghai especially is more about international trade. Shaoxing’s fair is more local. Everyone is looking for new markets and it is important for the government. Keqiao is an old market and has a lot of influence.”

Still, some attendees were less enthusiastic about the fair. Amy Xiao of Fashion Tree Trading, a Dubai agent with a branch office in Keqiao that sources in China for Middle Eastern markets, complained about the turnout.

“The fair was so-so, with not many people, but the area is very good for business,” Xiao said. “It has both the customers and the factories.”

Wang Lingfei, foreign trade director of Fuxing Textiles in Qianqing, which is also in Shaoxing County, said, “Spring was better. It had a lot more people. I think turnout is poor because Shanghai just had its fair, so people go there, not here. We saw a lot of customers from Turkey this time. People say the Turkish market is good now. The overall economy has started improving.”

A spokeswoman for Jiangsu Silk Textile Science & Technology in Shengze City said, “We come because Keqiao has the trade activity, so it is good for market development, but the fair’s a bit small. Jiangsu is more professional and has better factories. Zhejiang is cheaper and has more types of products. Keqiao has a big area, so customers are numerous and opportunities are numerous, while Shengze is more domestic.”

Other attendees were more upbeat. Li Na, a representative for Keqiao-based company Zibenjia, said she had a positive experience. “It’s our first fair, but we’re planning to do more,” she said. “It’s been very good, bringing us a lot of foreign trade opportunities.”

She said her company’s have been strong, especially domestic buys of winter fabrics.

“The show for me has been good because it’s more specialty producers, not just the big guys like at Intertextile or the Canton Fair,” said Jeffrey Clark, director of Source the Globe, a B2B service.

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