San Francisco — Are you ready to trade your Nikon for a "Peafowl" single lens reflex camera? Maybe you'd like to begin your day with a glass of "Greatwall" orange juice. These are just two of the more than 20,000 items on display at the Official Exhibition of the People's Republic of China that began its US tour in San Francisco Sept. 12.
The first official Chinese trade exhibition ever to visit the United States ended its San Francisco visit Sept. 28 and will move east for engagements in Chicago (Oct. 29-Nov. 9) and New York (Dec. 6-21).
Despite its "King Tut exhibit" appearance, virtually everything on display is for sale, if not exactly off the shelf, then through negotiations with individual traders.
The first of two warehouses the exhibit filled in San Francisco was filled almost entirely with examples of Chinese arts and crafts with a few samples of more modern textiles.
They included beautiful Boshan glassware, exquisite Peking ivory carvings (not available for export to the US because of endangered-species restrictions), and delicate Fuzhan cork carvings.
In the second pier warehouse were more modern, mundane items, such as shoes and paint brushes, sports jackets and musical instruments, a great variety of canned vegetables, stuffed animal toys, surgical instruments, jars of polystyrene resins, and tool- and die-cutting machines, to name a few.
In the first week and a half of the exhibit about 1,600 prospective buyers representing 900 concerns had visited the fair, according to Robert Phillips, of the US-China Business Development Corporation.
About 30 percent of the sales so far have been arts and crafts, followed by "light industry" (sporting goods, kitchenware, fireworks) and textiles.
There have been published reports that the fair, so far, has not produced many significant sales for the Chinese. Dr. Phillips noted, however, that it is not easy to overcome 20 years of neglect in one week.
Some firms that are just looking now will likely place orders later, he predicted. Other companies are placing only token orders now in order to test the ease and quickness of delivery and other problems in international shipping, he said.
An estimated 220,000 members of the general public visited the trade fair in San Francisco, Dr. Phillips said.
China is eager to increase its exports to the US, both to finance the nation's economic development program and to close its $1-to-$2 billion-a-year world trade deficit.