Saturday, April 26, 2008

(HERALD) Exploit trade fairs for business growth

Exploit trade fairs for business growth

INTERNATIONAL trade fairs are important business platforms for opening up new markets and helping businesses maximise opportunities to become global brands. The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, which opened last Tuesday, is one such powerful tool providing the country with a window of opportunity for both local and foreign traders to do business.

We welcome local and foreign exhibitors that are participating at the 49th edition of the ZITF, whose theme is "Made in Zimbabwe for Africa and the World’’. One of the positive developments at this year’s trade fair is the presence of a significant number of local small-to-medium scale businesses that have seized the opportunity to exhibit at the fair.

This should give them the necessary exposure to not only open up new markets but also learn a lesson or two from other exhibitors.

However, this year’s trade fair is taking place against a background of heightened vitriolic attacks on the Government by the country’s detractors.

Speculation had been rife in anti-Zimbabwe Western media during the run up to the trade fair that the event would be cancelled owing to what they described as a "political crisis" precipitated by the March 29 harmonised elections.

The United States and some Western countries led by Britain have stepped up their hostile campaign against the Government in a bid to effect regime change.

But there has been nothing to remotely suggest that the trade showcase would be cancelled or postponed.

The country has succeeded in dispelling the propaganda and we commend the organisers of the trade fair for efficiently preparing for the event.

We do not expect serious exhibitors to take business decisions based on political expediency because ZITF is an apolitical organisation used only as a platform to forge trade links.

Another notable development in ZITF 2008 that has been of grave concern to both exhibitors and visitors was the acute escalation of costs, particularly accommodation.

Service providers, hoteliers in particular had sharply increased their accommodation fees, a development which only serves to scare away exhibitors and visitors from coming to such trade showcases.

We thank the National Incomes and Pricing Commission for moving in swiftly to allow sanity to prevail in the pricing of services.

We cannot at this moment afford to behave in a manner that discourages potential business to come our way when the country is facing serious economic challenges, which have been worsened by unjustified sanctions imposed against the country.

But despite all the efforts to discredit the country, it is pleasing to note that optimism has been high among exhibitors, with quite a good number of them expressing satisfaction with the inquiries they received since the very first day.

Exhibitors normally get out of the trade fair what they put into it, and any exhibitor or business person worth his salt should know that business does not end on the last day of the ZITF.

Indeed, the whole essence of the trade fair is to receive inquiries, be able to follow them up and translate them into concrete business deals.

Our wish, therefore, is for the ZITF to end resoundingly, particularly with yesterday’s befitting official opening of the event by President Mugabe.

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