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Chicago and NPE focus of global plastics industry

Registration figures taken less than two weeks before the start of NPE 2006 (June 19-23, McCormick Place) further cement the triennial trade show''s growing stature as an international plastics event. NPE is no longer used as an acronym for National Plastics Exposition, standing alone as the show does now on a world stage.

According to show sponsor, the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI; Washington, DC), a record 33% of exhibitors are companies from directly outside the U.S. That figure has increased from 30% in 2003 and 24.5% in 2000. A record number of foreign registrants have signed on as well, with 21% of total registrations coming from outside the U.S., compared to only 15% at the same point before NPE 2003. That figure has steadily increased going all the way back to 1994, climbing from 12% to 15% to 19%, for ''94, ''97, and ''00 respectively.

Further reflecting the ongoing shift within the industry, China and Hong Kong combine for the largest foreign exhibitor contingent, bringing 127 firms to Chicago. They''re followed by Canada (118) and Germany (62). Other than Italy''s 36 companies, Asia''s growing plastics influence is displayed by the number of exhibitors coming to Chicago from the region, including Taiwan (61), India (29), and Korea (26), with Asian countries accounting for four of the top seven nations in terms of the number of foreign NPE exhibitors.

Offering U.S.-style hospitality to the foreign guests, SPI has plans to operate an International Center in the Grand Ballroom or McCormick Place''s South Hall. Those interested in business and networking opportunities for international visitors can visit www.npe.org/international. In addition, there will be 15 multi-exhibitor pavilions representing a number of countries and foreign trade associations, including Austria, Canada, China, Italy, Korea, Malaysia, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, and Taiwan.

Beyond foreign representation, SPI is anticipating a capacity show overall. With six days until the opening, there were 1850 exhibitors and 942,579-sq-ft of floor space taken. Many exhibitors are first timers, with 697 making their NPE debut in 2006, up from 342 in 2003.

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