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Lured by the Scent of Opportunity

German trade fairs have succeeded in capitalizing on their location in the center of Europe. Foreigners now make for 20 percent of the visitors and foreign firms too are increasingly setting up stands.


Been there, done that -- foreigners are making a point of visiting Germany's trade fairs.

Whether it's automobiles, books, clothes, engineering products, boats, telecommunications, shoes or computers, Germany has a trade fair for them all.

With more than 100 of the world's leading industrial fairs taking place in the country including the Frankfurt Book Fair and the IT fair CeBIT in Hanover, the country has earned a formidable reputation as an attractive meeting ground for checking out the latest technology as well as shopping around for potential business deals and tie-ups.

And now word seems to have reached far beyond its shores. For the first time, the number of foreign visitors at Germany's trade fairs has reached 20 percent, the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) has announced.

At the same time the number of foreign exhibitors at German trade fairs has also been rising steadily. Now half of them are non-German. Although European neighbors like Italy, the United Kingdom and France top the list, as a region Asia has assumed leadership among the foreign firms. Companies from China, Taiwan and South Korea make up nearly a quarter of trade exhibitors in Germany.

In the heart of Europe

The foreigners are attracted partly by the significance of the fairs themselves, but also by Germany's geographic position, especially for Asian firms, the chief executive officer of AUMA, Hermann Kresse, told Deutsche Welle.

"Germany is right in the heart of Europe, and the European market -- not just the EU market, but also the expanded European market -- is naturally a quite substantial market for foreign products, and in this case also for Asian products," Kresse explained "The Asian exhibitors meet their global competitors here due to the very high internationality. Every other exhibitor at our events comes from abroad," he said.

Asian firms are not alone in their interest in German trade fairs. The number of visitors from the United States has been growing consistently, although fewer U.S. firms have been exhibiting in Germany due to the weak economy and the crisis in the "New Economy" that still weighs heavy on many firms.

The rise in interest suggests that the political conflict between Berlin and Washington over the Iraq war may not be having a strong effect on business deals. "At least," Kresse told Deutsche Welle, "we can say that it did not have a negative impact on our segment of trade."

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  • Date 05.08.2003
  • Author Alfred Gertler
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/3wnn
  • Date 05.08.2003
  • Author Alfred Gertler
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/3wnn