From China With Love

- The Canton Fair inspires a heartfelt Sino-Swedish relationship

GUANGZHOU, China, July 18, 2013 / PRNewswire — One man, one trade show, a unique 47-year-old history. When Peppino G. Cocozza, popularly known as Giuseppe, first arrived in China in 1966, his hair was black and red guards filled the streets of Guangzhou. After attending an early installment of the Canton Fair that year, Cocozza fell in love – both with the show and the country of China. Rarely has a business opportunity blossomed into such heartfelt and longstanding devotion.

To call Cocozza a Sinophile would be an understatement. “No one loves China more than I do,” says Cocozza. “I’m not a foreigner. I have a Chinese heart.”

Cocozza’s interest in China was inspired by Marco Polo’s travel journals, which he read avidly before his first trip. The mysterious oriental civilization held a powerful allure for the Italian-born Swede, who founded his own business, lnter Agenturer AB, in 1961. After learning about the Canton Fair from a friend five years later, he jumped at the opportunity to visit the country of his dreams.

These days 74-year-old Cocozza’s hair may be white, but he remains as sprightly as ever. Having attended the Canton Fair nearly 100 times since 1966, he was awarded a special prize at the 100th installment of the Fair in 2006, when he met Premiers Zhu Rongji and Wen Jiabao. Keeping it in the family, he has even brought his son and grandson to the event, and frequently travels across China.

Back in 1966 Cocozza spent a few thousand dollars on products from the Fair – these days Chinese goods cover the walls of his head office in Linkoping.

“When I first came to the Fair Chinese goods made up 5% of my business,” explains Cocozza. “Now that percentage is 95%. I can’t believe so many great things are designed and made in China today. It was my faith in the ingenuity and determination of the Chinese people that kept me coming back to the Fair over and over again.”

With so many friends at the Fair, Cocozza’s is a hugely popular face at the event. If you can count on one attendee at the 114th installment of the Canton Fair – which kicks off on October 15, 2013 – it’s the Swede with a Chinese heart.

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