RIETI Report October 2020

Export trade fairs and Coronavirus

All businesses that rely on people traveling and meeting in large numbers have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The trade fair business is no exception. In this column, RIEIT Fellow Ryo MAKIOKA examines ancillary effects that the COVID-19 crisis is having on business formation and opportunities that are lost with the move to online communications, particularly as it relates to the cancellation of international trade fairs, which are fruitful opportunities for networking and for both embarking on or finalizing business deals as they allow for partners to meet face-to-face. As Makioka establishes, especially in the case of SMEs aiming to expand export operations, there is currently no adequate substitute for direct communication.

This month's featured article

Export trade fairs and Coronavirus

MAKIOKA RyoFellow (Policy Economist), RIETI

This short article introduces my recent studies on export trade fairs. The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had enormous impacts on many industries, and the trade fair industry is no exception. According to the Japan Exhibition Association (2020), approximately 450 trade fairs have been cancelled or postponed since the COVID-19 pandemic began to expand in late February. Losses due to such cancellations or postponements affect a wide range of stakeholders from trade fair sponsors, site operators and support companies, to product exhibitors and other trade-fair participants.

Trade fairs are defined as events that is held for the purpose of allowing corporations and individuals to have business talks with buyers for the purpose of selling their products and to collect and exchange information including future market trends. Such trade fairs enable buyers and sellers to hold efficient meetings and therefore vitalize their business. Communicating face-to-face in trade fairs also inspires the creation of new innovations and explore market needs.

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