Value Added Tax
➤ Officially, China's VAT is 17 percent, but its assessment and refundability vary among shows and venues. Check with show management or your exhibit house to confirm tax details for specific shows.
➤ A 5-percent business tax may also be levied depending on the goods or services sold.
➤ Giveaways shipped into the country may be subject to a customs import tax in addition to VAT. To minimize or avoid this tax, send only small quantities and ensure the value is low.
➤ Most exhibit halls use 220 volts, but 110-volt power can sometimes be ordered.
➤ Adapters/transformers should be brought from home or rented from your exhibit contractor.
➤ Builders are responsible for handling all trash generated during I&D.
➤ Most shows have trash-removal services included in the space-rental fee.
➤ Build-and-burn exhibits may require an additional disposal fee.
➤ Prepaid SIM cards are available at the airport or any China Mobile/China Unicom office.
➤ Use a disposable phone with a local number to communicate with suppliers, as many do not have international dialing capabilities.
➤ Exhibitors are generally free to play music in their booths, but should get show-management approval. You may need to obtain a music license or pay to use the venue's license.
➤ Dial 110 for the police.
➤ Dial 119 for the fire department.
➤ Dial 120 for medical assistance.
Greetings and Culture
➤ Shaking hands is appropriate for men and women, though in Chinese culture the exchange is sometimes longer than what Westerners would consider normal.
➤ Treat a business card with great respect; never write on it or put it in your pocket. Always give and receive business cards with two hands, and read the cards completely.
➤ If a Chinese businessperson speaks English, he or she will have an English name. But it is still polite to use their Chinese name. In China, the last name comes first, so, for example, "Li, Xiao Long" would be "Mr. Li."
➤ When exhibiting in China, make friendly conversation before discussing business.
➤ Large exhibits typically feature hospitality lounges, though some sort of hospitality is offered in most booths, regardless of size.
➤ Snacks, candy, and hot and cold beverages are commonly served. Typical snacks include flaky pastries, sponge cakes, and stuffed buns.
➤ Alcohol is uncommon, but allowed, in most venues. Check with show organizers for regulations regarding alcohol before serving it to attendees.
➤ If meeting clients for dinner, always let the guest take the first bite. If you want to pay, discreetly tell the staff, or there could be a scene when the check comes.
➤ English is widely spoken in the Chinese business community, but exhibitors should also provide a translator who speaks Mandarin.
➤ Signs, literature, and business cards should be printed in both English and Mandarin. But don't rely on computer translation for proper Chinese; pay for translation services.
➤ Business attire is typical for exhibitors. Men usually wear suits, and women often wear business suits or skirts.
➤ Don't wear a lot of jewelry. Visible piercings and tattoos are generally discouraged.
➤ Men should not wear green caps, as it traditionally signifies an unfaithful spouse.
Installation and Dismantle
➤ Exhibitors are not required to use union labor, though many show organizers require contractors to fill out certain labor forms.
➤ Exhibitors may set up their own displays, but hire a local exhibition company to navigate local building and safety requirements.
➤ Make sure your exhibit company has an English-speaking representative on site at all times.
➤ Drayage is not typically charged in Shanghai. Show management oversees booth safety, and may require CAD drawings several weeks prior to the show.
General Facts and Tips
➤ Most exhibits built in China are for one-time use, and the materials may be of a lower quality than American exhibitors expect. You may need to send samples of the specific materials you want to your Chinese exhibit builder in order to obtain the types of materials you're used to receiving from domestic suppliers.
➤ During large international shows, hotels fill completely. Make reservations up to a year in advance.
➤ Shanghai's metro system is efficient and easy to navigate, though taxis or hired drivers are often the quickest way to travel.
➤ Have directions and addresses for your hotel and the show venue written in Mandarin to share with taxi drivers. Most hotels have a "taxi card" for this purpose.
➤ Shanghai has a free, English-speaking information service for foreigners, which also provides translation help. Dial 962288 from any local phone.
➤ You can't drive a rental car unless you successfully complete the Chinese permit and license process.
Venues and Resources
➤ The Shanghai New International Expo Center is the largest exhibit hall in Asia, with 13 show halls, while the Shanghai International Convention Center has 362,000 square feet of show/meeting space, and is attached to the five-star Kerry Hotel/Shangri-la.
➤ For information on all Chinese exhibition venues, visit: www.expo-china.com
Rajeev Anand, director, TSI Displays Pvt., New Delhi; Brian Belanger, vice president, Exhibit Connections Ltd., Toronto; Erika Boelling, partner, GK+A International Exhibit Management Inc., Toronto; Mary Buffa, senior account executive, Skyline Exhibits, Mississauga, ON, Canada; Anselmo Carvalho, principal, Feira & Cia Group, São Paulo; Andrew Childers, vice president of strategy and communications, Green Park Global LLC, St. George, UT; Arindam Dasgupta, deputy general manager, Insta Group, Mumbai, India; Monika Detemple, director of sales and marketing/international projects, ExpoHouse International Stand Promocionais Ltda., Sao Paulo; Christopher Dorn, president, Idea International Inc., Tokyo; Ben Einer, president, international, EWI Worldwide, Hamburg, Germany; Gloria Guevara, executive director, International Federation of Exhibition and Event Services, Brussels; Tyler Johnson, international department director, Art Space Expo Services Co. Ltd., Shanghai; Oben Karatepe, CEO, Tasarimhane Yapi Dekorasyon Ltd., Istanbul; Shirley Li, general manager Shanghai office, EWI Worldwide, Shanghai; Kris Malmberg, sales and marketing vice president, Pico North America, Chicago; Gino Pellegrini, president, InterGlobal Exhibitions, Denver; Stephen Riches, vice president of global sales, Astound Group, Oakville, ON, Canada; Kadir Kaan Ekerciler, freelance B2B communication specialist, Istanbul; Kelli Steckbauer, director of global business, MG Design Associates Corp., Chicago; Jeannine Swan, president, Global Exhibit Management, Fort Worth, TX; Liese Tamburrino, CEO, Green Park Global LLC, Las Vegas; Roberto Telleria, international sales and marketing manager, Skyline Exhibits, Orlando, FL; Jenny Town, general manager assistant, Skyline Exhibits, Shanghai; Xiaoyang Wang, general manager, Skyline Exhibits, Shanghai