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Kunming Fair again sets records

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The twentieth Kunming Import and Export Fair closed on Sunday after six days of frenzied business. This year the fair produced US$8.1 billion in trade and investment contracts.

The value of all contracts rose 16 percent from last year and is almost four times greater than the amount in 2010, Yunnan Net is reporting.

Fair attendance and participation was likely boosted by three international conferences being held simultaneously at the Kunming International Convention and Exhibition Center. The seventh South Asia Business Forum, the tenth ASEAN Business Conference and the fourth Greater Mekong Sub-Region Conference were held in conjunction with the fair.

Twelve thousand representatives from 31 countries participated. Goods, services and investment opportunities were displayed by more than 1,900 businesses from around the globe.

Exhibitions were spread over six halls, running the gamut from industrial machinery to handcrafts to food and drink.

Yunnan governor Li Jiheng (fourth from left) applauding during the June 6 signing ceremony
Yunnan governor Li Jiheng (fourth from left) applauding during the June 6 signing ceremony

During the Kunming Fair, 756 contracts were formalized in two separate signing ceremonies, which were overseen by government dignitaries including Kunming mayor Zhang Zulin (张祖林) and Yunnan governor Li Jiheng (李纪恒).

The Kunming municipal government signed agreements for 158 infrastructure and trade projects worth more than US$288 million. This dwarfs the totals from last year, when the government inked five deals worth US$97 million.

The fair's success is perhaps unsurprising as the Chinese government has been positioning Kunming to become a trade and tourism gateway (桥头堡) to Southeast and Central Asia for the past two years.

International trade is expected to increase further in Yunnan and Kunming as several large-scale infrastructure projects are completed. Changshui International Airport is scheduled to open June 28 and is poised to become a logistics and shipping hub linking Southeast Asia and China.

Jeff Greene (Burma Road Productions) and Zhou Linchun (Director, Stone Forest Tourism Authority) signing a partnership agreement to build a movie studio in the Stone Forest.
Jeff Greene (Burma Road Productions) and Zhou Linchun (Director, Stone Forest Tourism Authority) signing a partnership agreement to build a movie studio in the Stone Forest.

Images: Yereth Jansen

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This is becoming a major draw for locals, nearing the crowds of the auto fair. Traffic around the area was a nightmare though. Also, this fair was open to public (ticket 30rmb).

It was also a great place to spend some time. Especially the Middle-Eastern section, where bearded patriarchs in expensive-looking garments showed their tapestries and jewels. Yes, it's all in a sterile modern building now, but I almost felt like in an Indian bazaar: with a little fantasy, the walls melt away, the scent of incense fills the air, camels lazily circle above the white roofs and fakirs test their arses.

A lot of the goods sold there were also fake (not real Jade, a different kind of Eaglewood). But the owners were mostly honest about it (though not everywhere, I learned from someone who worked there as a translator).

I went home with a couple of coins from Bhutan and an invitation to the country and a set of funny photos.

The fair moves on to Chengdu and Beijing after that. There it'll be free, because business with the locals is generally better, according to some salesman whose Chinese translator was surprised that I bought the 30 RMB ticket "just to look around".

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