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The first name of China Foreign Trade Centre is originally Chinese Export Commodities Exhibition Hall. It is the standing institution of China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) since it was established and is responsible for undertaking Canton Fair. From 1957 to 1979, it was the enterprise under the direct control of Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.
In April 1979, with the approval of State Department, Chinese Export Commodities Exhibition Hall became a corporation and was renamed Guangzhou Foreign Trade Centre. On 1 January 1980, Guangzhou Foreign Trade Centre was officially founded.

In autumn of 1986, Guangzhou Foreign Trade Centre was renamed China Foreign Trade Centre (Guangzhou).

On 29 August 1988, China Foreign Trade Centre (Guangzhou) was renamed China Foreign Trade Centre (Group).

In 1999, it was praised as one of the top 25 enterprises by Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation because of its excellent achievements in export.

In April 2001, with approval of Central Institution Organization Commission Office, China Foreign Trade Centre (Group) became government-sponsored institution and was renamed China Foreign Trade Centre. It accomplished government-sponsored institution corporation registration on 31 July 2001.

China Foreign Trade Centre is responsible for organizing, managing and undertaking Canton Fair that is held twice a year in spring and autumn. At the same time, it also operates various exhibitions (including domestic exhibitions for foreign exhibitors, overseas exhibitions and domestic exhibitions), trade, advertising, property management, tourism, hotel, restaurant and real estate.

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