Exhibition Industry Gets Chance to Urge Role in Export Initiative

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Washington, DC – The exhibition industry has a golden opportunity this month to urge the Federal government to make regulatory changes that will help trade shows make an even greater contribution to U.S. exports.

The Department of Commerce is taking comments from stakeholders on the National Export Initiative (NEI) through July 26. The comments, which are being solicited from companies, industry associations and other interested parties, will be used to put together a comprehensive plan to meet the NEI’s goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years.

The trade show industry has publicly stated that trade shows are a very promising component of an export strategy since they bring together U.S. producers and potential buyers from overseas. Exhibitions are particularly valuable to smaller companies that may not have the resources to maintain a sales presence overseas.

“The administration’s export initiative is a huge opportunity for exhibition organizers to focus their events internationally,” said Gary Shapiro, president & CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. “Every organizer should submit a letter describing their event, the number of small U.S. companies participating and how they don’t have to go overseas to sell if overseas buyers come here.” They can also use these letters with their own trade press to help promote their event.

The NEI also offers the industry a high-level ear in Washington. The comments can be used to not only point out the contributions trade shows can play in the global economy, but also suggest regulatory and policy changes that will make it easier for overseas attendees to travel to the U.S. and do business with U.S. exporters on the show floor.

The comment period for the NEI follows a meeting that took place last month in Washington between staff members from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and a delegation from the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).

The meeting produced agreement on an agenda of ideas relating to the NEI, including assisting show organizers with finding prospective attendees overseas and providing on-site assistance with financing and shipping of products purchased at an exhibition.

The IAEE also repeated the need to streamline and speed-up the often-frustrating process of obtaining a U.S. visa for foreign attendees and exhibitors.

Show organizers as well as industry associations and destination marketing organizations are urged to add their voices to the NEI comment collection so that the benefits of increasing international participations in trade shows come through loud and clear.

“Individual convention centers may also be interested in filing,” said Shapiro. “Even if exhibition industry trade associations file on their own, the effect will be amplified if several organizations file.”

Comments may be submitted until 11:59 p.m. EDT on July 26. Submissions may be no longer than 25 single-spaced pages and can be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov using the docket number 100624279-0279-01. They may also be mailed to: Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, U.S. Department of Commerce, Room C102, 1401 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 22039. Attn.: Comments.

Reach Grace Hu, Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, at (202) 482-5455 or grace.hu@trade.gov