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Iran Plast 2005 exhibits current growth, sows future concerns

This year''s Iran Plast 2005 (Tehran) plastics show, which wants to be the Middle East''s premier platform for materials and processing equipment, closed Tuesday, Dec. 7, after a five-day run which saw a 33% increase in exhibitors and a 25% increase in net exhibition space, according to Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, president of the state-owned polymer producer NPC as well as the country''s deputy oil minister.

On the surface, these figures show substantial improvement despite the fact that fair organizers had to contend with a competing trade show, Plast EuroAsia in Istanbul, which overlapped the Tehran exhibition by two days. Domestic exhibitors to the Iranian show totaled 384, an increase of 85, while non-Iranian exhibitors jumped from 204 in 2004 to 283 this year.

However, 42% of the exhibitors from last year''s event were no-shows this year. This has led a number of exhibitors to question the reasons for this drop and why the show hasn''t grown even larger than it now is. "In fact the numbers represent a negative growth," Claudio Celata, head of the Italian plastics equipment manufacturers'' association Assocomoplast (Milan), told MPW in Tehran. He said the number of exhibitors who decided not to attend this year could indicate that they were unsuccessful in the past in finding the right customers for their goods, especially international customers for export. "It can be that many former exhibitors decided the investment in a stand was not worth the return," he said. International visitors to the show appear to be very limited although the Iran fair''s authorities do not keep such records.

The show is simply not attracting enough foreign visitors, Celata said, and this could be related to the trouble involved in getting visas to enter Iran. Other show exhibitors said the country''s trade commissions, consulates, and embassies are not promoting Iran Plast abroad.

Celata points to another bone of contention between exhibitors and the fair commission: international exhibitors are charged more than five times more for booth space than domestic exhibitors. This has riled some foreign exhibitors as well as their Iranian agents who are also socked with the higher stand prices.

President of Varzidehker, M. Varzidehker, who was both an exhibitor and local representative for process machinery producer Krauss-Maffei (Munich, Germany), says he can understand that local exhibitors should get a break, "but a price of five times higher seems exorbitant."

Half of the total exhibitors this year were showing processing machinery while finished and semi-finished products producers took second place. A total of 283 exhibitors from 22 countries attending the show was lead by German producers (54), followed by Taiwanese (42), Italian (39), Chinese (37), and Austrian and South Korean exhibitors with 19 each. No companies from the U.S. were represented.-Robert Colvin; [email protected]

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