Asean integration a boon for exhibition business

ANGKOK The planned formation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 offers a huge opportunity for the growth of the exhibition sector in the sub-region.

Edward Liu, president of the Asian Federation of Exhibition and Convention Association, pointed out that Asean’s integration into an economic bloc similar to Europe’s common market would result to a single market of 600 million people with a per capita average income of around US$3,106 and growing

“Specifically, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam have 28 per cent of Asean’s population and about 13 per cent of its GDP. That’s where the real potential for business growth is,” he said during a presentation at the recently concluded Thailand MICE Forum 2012 held in Bangkok.

The key to where new exhibition opportunities lie depend on a given country in Asean having a critical mass of manufacturers to run an exhibition. The key sectors are electronics, integrated circuits, micro assemblies, petroleum products, oil, petroleum gasses, computer parts, office machines, palm oil and rubber – the subregion’s main exports and imports.

Liu predicted that beyond 2015, the Asean, China and India will become the major regions for staging international trade shows and exhibitions. Japan, Korea and Taiwan will also attract more local and global organisers.

His other forecasts include the following:

  • In Asean, Indonesia is likely to be the new battlefield among local organisers, more established foreign players and new entrants.
  • Another major player will be Thailand with its vast market and world class infrastructure
  • With its new tourism and MICE positioning, Singapore will attract new event organisers from the United States
  • Vietnam and the Philippines will draw more interest after 2014
  • Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia will stay at the forefront of the MICE sector.

Liu, however warned that many organisers are unable to compete with foreign counterparts in terms of expertise, resources and market connectivity, many are likely to face challenges or extinction in the years to come.

He added that companies such as Reed Tradex, GL, UBM, Messe Berlin and Messe Frankfurt would continue to enter and dominate the Asian exhibition industry. These seasoned organisers will be attracted to the Asean because the AEC will transform Southeast Asia into an economic powerhouse.

Liu said the region needs to facilitate more merger and acquisitions to gain fast entry into the Asean market place.

“We are in a very good position, but we must prepare ourselves,” he added.

Gigi Onag


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