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Exporting & Importing Goods/finding a supplier in china

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Question
Hello Hank. i have been reading your answers for months, i was a Taxi Driver in the city of Toronto Canada and a year ago i decided to go back to my home country(guinee conakry) to start a building material store. the store is been openning for a year and now i want to take my second step which is to go to china and buy goods(corrugated iron sheet, tiles and iron rods) and my buget is around 80k. i have been trying to find a real supplier that i will visit in china but its seem like they dont exist.
i really need a help and thanks in advance. best regard Amadu

Answer
Hi Amadu, normally you don't go looking for suppliers in China unless you're able to sell goods in relatively large quantities.  The benefit of paying more to a local importer, distributor, or wholesaler in your country is that you have flexibility in terms of the quantities you need to purchase so you don't need to carry a lot of inventory. You also don't have to deal with the risks and problems of importing from China. I could be wrong, but I doubt that it would make sense for you to try to buy direct from China to support the sales of a single retail store. $80,000 is probably one container of goods. I guess if you are able to parlay your retail business into a distributorship in which you sell both retail to end users and wholesale to contractors, then it can work.  For now I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you have enough sales to justify the huge risks and expenses of becoming an importer.

Ah, how to find a real supplier -- this is the million-dollar question. They do indeed exist, but there are many obstacles in your path.  The best suppliers are already in bed with their customers (your competitors) and they are probably not too active in seeking out new customers. The "suppliers" who advertise on Alibaba.com or GlobalSources.com are just that: advertisers. Most of them are not what you need. The best way for you to find suppliers is to look for industry shows and exhibitions taking place in China, go to them and meet the suppliers.  A supplier who goes to the trouble and expense to exhibit at a trade show is seriously looking for customers. I guess that the products you're looking for can be classified as "building materials" or "construction materials"? A quick Google search turned up a couple of shows that MIGHT be worth checking out:

http://www.bj-jbh.com/english.asp
2013 China Beijing Int'l Building Materials Expo
March 7-10,2013

http://www.expobuild.com/
Expo Build China 2013 - China's Leading Exhibition for Premium Building Materials
1 - 3 April 2013

There are surely many more similar shows taking place in China throughout the year. Some searching on line should yield more results.
Try to contact the show organizers and confirm that there will be exhibitors of the sorts of items you need. Try to get your hands on exhibitors' lists, either from the web sites of the shows or directly from the show organizers. You can try to research the exhibitors in advance and maybe even reach out to them by email to set up meetings for when you're at the show.

I can also help you find suppliers but I would need to charge you. If interested in discussing further, please rate this answer and then start a new question and mark it private.
Good luck, Hank

Exporting & Importing Goods

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Hank S

Expertise

Ask me about sourcing and manufacturing products in China, managing vendors in China, importing from China, developing new products in China, price negotiations with suppliers in China, and logistics-related issues.

Experience

I am a China sourcing professional. I lived in China from 1993 to 2003 where I learned Chinese and worked in the fields of logistics, marketing and manufacturing services. I have audited hundreds of factories in China. I am authorized by the NYS Unified Court System as an interpreter of Mandarin Chinese. I have an MBA in international business and entrepreneurship. I work in a U.S. company as director of product development and sourcing.

Education/Credentials
MBA, International Business & Entrepreneurship, City University of NY BA, East Asian Studies & Chinese, City University of NY Studied international trade taught in Chinese at the University of International Business & Economics in Beijing Chinese language study at Beijing University & Nanjing University

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