Before the Canton Fair opened I had a free day and so went to visit a vendor on behalf of a customer in Toronto. The vendor was a printing company in Shenzhen and I wanted to observe the process by which my customer’s products are produced and priced because some of the costing, my customer and I have decided, seems arbitrary and unreasonable. The printing factory was a very nice facility, big, clean and seemingly well run, and the owner I found very personable. He said he would try to work with us to lower costs and to this end we visited an area outside of Shenzhen where all China suppliers buy their raw materials. We saw everything from fabrics, to metals to plastic, everything in its raw material state. I thought it was interesting that most of the PVC and PP is now imported into China from places like Thailand, Taiwan and Korea. When I asked the vendor about this he told me that China’s advantage is in the abundance of low-cost labor, production capability and state of the art machinery, much of it imported from countries like Germany and Japan. From now on when I hear from a vendor that the cost of raw materials is rising I will not doubt them. It was a fascinating visit to a fascinating place.

In the evening we went for dinner at a restaurant in the countryside. There was a lake to the side where people could fish while they waited for a table or to eat. Only in China can you do things like this which are well off the beaten path. And I mean off the beaten path literally as well for the restaurant was at the end of a long gravelly road in the countryside. Great food and great weather too. A memorable visit.