INVESTMENT IN INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIRS AND THE ECONOMIC RETURNS TO THE NATION

INVESTMENT IN INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIRS AND THE ECONOMIC RETURNS TO THE NATION

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background/Overview of the Study:

It has been advocated that trades advance the economy and society and intend to be the best measure of social, economic development and standard of living. The first organized trade fairs in Nigeria tagged “made in Nigeria exhibition” was held as far back as 1953. The forum was expected to be an opportunity for the exhibition of local industries in Nigeria. However, available reports show that participants on the fair were scanty compared to October 1960 exhibition, which was organized as part of Nigerian independence celebration.

The first Nigerian international trade fair was held in Victoria Island Lagos in 1962 and lasted for twenty three days from October 27th to November 18th.By that time; Nigerians seemed not to have embraced the opportunity offered by international trade fairs. Though I did not have enough report (favorable or unfavorable)about the fair, but one is tempted to assume that it was not successful for the fact that the country has to abandon international trade fair for fifteen(15)years before organizing another one in 1977.

It was argued that after the 1977 international trade fair in Lagos, Nigerians began to realize the importance of trade fairs. Trade fair became so frequent that we seem to have lost account of the number of fairs so far held since 1953, when the first trade fair was ever held. In the recent times, trade fairs have become annual event in some states in Nigeria. From inception, the various chambers of commerce are the organizer of international trade fair. Chamber of


commerce is a non-profit, non-governmental association of businessmen and women who pool their resources together to create conducive environment for their business to thrive. In Nigeria, there are three centers that are designated for hosting international trade fairs. They include; Lagos, Kaduna and Enugu. Enugu hosted their first international trade fair in 1990 and continued to do so as an annual event. The 2009 Enugu international trade fair was held from 27th March, to 5th April, 2009.

International trade fairs are expected to be significantly different from trade exhibitions or the so-called made in Nigerian goods, technological developments, new services and new ideas available in the country.

Foreign products, new ideas, services and technologies are not expected to be on display on local trade fairs. However, foreign investors or individuals are free to attend local trade fairs and avail themselves of investment opportunities in Nigeria. Thus, exhibition has been described as windows to foreigners to see the industrial potentials of Nigeria and the opportunities offered by the economy. International trade fair is a world trade. There is no space bound, any person, company or group is to participate and display their products and services at the fair. International trade fair was expected to attract reputable foreign manufacturers especially those that produce tools and machine, enabling Nigerian businessmen acquire the needed capital goods for the development of their businesses.

It is worthy to note that the aims, objectives and organized procedure for both local and international trade fairs are significantly the same. That is creating awareness for new products, new ideas and veritable environment to market new products, enhanced innovation and skills and to analyze the economic trends for individual, cooperate and national goals. It has also been


advocated that international trade fairs or exhibitions are non-personal promotion tools aimed at educating informing and persuading people to buy and to familiarize themselves with new product, new methods and opportunities in the economy.

So far, we have given a brief history of Enugu international trade fair and had tried to distinguish between local exhibitions from international trade fairs. We assert that the aims, objectives and organizations of both local and international are similar and had also stated the purpose or objectives of international trade fairs.

The pertinent question is “do the 19thEnugu international trade fair achieved its desired objectives”?

BENEFITS OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR

(1) Trade fair is an avenue for “fair pricing”.

(2) It provides temporal employment especially to youths.

(3) It provides a shopping ground for fairest prices.

(4) Trade fairs are avenue for young talented businessmen and artisans to exhibit their ideas and or products hitherto unknown to the public.

(5) It is an avenue for adventure.

(6) It offers opportunity for small-scale enterprises or ventures to advertise their products or ideas.

(7) It is an arena for quick sales.

(8) It provides opportunity for making contacts.

In contrast to the belief that trade fairs promote foreign made goods, present trade fairs are means to see local substitutes to foreign goods, which are always very exorbitant. It offers the opportunity to see that some of the products we buy as foreign products are after all produced here.


In general, trade fair triggers off business boom in a city and its environment through out the duration. Trade fair may not be regarded as trading per se because is involves not only buying and selling. Some companies participate not to make immediate sales but to create awareness, stimulate demand and expose people to the latest new product, new ideas and new methods or what we generally call technological development. This view is to be harmonized believing that demand generated by trade fair is evanescent (fading). But the pertinent question is “Do the huge investment on international trade fairs be justified by the economic returns to the nation?”

Statement of the Problem:

It is known that organizing and staging of international trade fairs involve a lot of resources: time, money and materials are employed and consummated. For example, the first Lagos international trade fair in 1977 was estimated to have cost the nation about #140,000,000(one hundred and forty million naira). Besides cost of transportation, a participant has to pay for a stand and make the necessary reconstruction.

Organizing successful trade fair is not an easy task either. The provision of facilities that will meet the desires of divergent and diverse interest groups is indeed a very hard task. Awareness has to be created and the necessary co-ordinations and monitoring has to be made if a successful fair is anticipated. For the successful planning, organizing and execution of the 19th Enugu international trade fair, the Enugu chamber of commerce had to form as many as seven committees in addition to collaborating organizing committees from other states chambers of commerce and industry. Trade fairs are necessary investment


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