More exhibitors from the Middle East and Africa at German trade fairs

Total number of international participants rose by 3.9% in 2016

In 2016, there were significantly more exhibitors from Africa, the Middle East and Latin America at German trade fairs than in previous years. Growth drivers in the international participation numbers, however, also, remain China as well as South, East and Central Asia. In 2016, there were altogether 3.9% more foreign exhibitors at international and national trade fairs than at the respective previous events. These were the findings of a study conducted by AUMA, the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry.

There was almost a 6% rise in the number of exhibitors from the People’s Republic of China in 2016 compared to the same events in previous years. China was also by some distance the leading foreign source of trade fair participants in Germany, with over 15,000 exhibitors. India, by contrast, saw its number shrink by 4%. Altogether, there were nearly 30,000 exhibitors from South, East and Central Asia at German trade fairs in 2016 – a rise of some 4.5%.

With a 23% jump, the Middle East showed the highest growth in participant numbers among all business regions, although the total was a relatively modest 1,700 exhibitor stands. The two largest exhibitors from the region, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, saw 23% and 13% gains respectively. Particularly noteworthy was the over 70% exhibitor growth shown by Iran, which is currently active at 40 trade fairs, in sectors ranging from food to shipbuilding.

Participation numbers from the larger countries of the European Union posted below-average growth, with some remaining stagnant. On the bright side, Spain and France each saw a 3.5% increase in exhibitor numbers. A few smaller, “younger” EU states, by contrast, are eager to gain a foothold in the German trade fair sector, especially Slovenia (+15%), now an active presence at over 100 German trade fairs, with 500 participants. In all, EU states sent 2% more exhibitors in 2016.

African states increased their participant numbers at trade fairs in Germany by a remarkable 17% to 1,900 exhibitors. For the first time, Egypt (+17%) had as many exhibitors as the usual African leader, South Africa (each with 410 exhibitors). Other North African countries also showed strong growth, including Morocco (+24%) and Tu-nisia (+31%). In general, participation rates for African countries, particularly the smaller ones, fluctuate significantly year to year. In many cases there is evidently a lack of clear export strategies.

There was also above-average exhibitor growth from Latin America of roughly 10% to almost 2,300 exhibitors. As the second-largest exhibitor country in the region, Argentina rose by some 8%, Brazil by 3.5%, and third-placed Mexico by 17%. But smaller countries like Chile, Colombia and Peru also posted double-digit growth rates. These countries clearly see the European market as an important export region in the future as well.

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