US-China trade war hit American trade shows hard

Organisers of US-based trade shows cite lost exhibit sales and attendees from China and South-east Asia

US trade show organiser are counting the losses of the ongoing US-China trade war.
US trade show organiser are counting the losses of the ongoing US-China trade war.

NEW YORK - The ongoing trade war between the United States and China are having a negative impact on the meetings and conventions industry in America, with the Chinese market the hardest hit, said US trade show organisers in a recent survey.

At the annual CEIR Predict Conference in August, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) conducted a survey of trade show executives who have held a US-based B2B trade show in 2018 through July 2019.

Findings showed that 55% of respondents said that trade tariffs negatively impacted US-based exhibitions (compared to 5% who found that it positively impacted them), with an average gross revenue loss of 7.7%.

The biggest impact was felt in exhibit sales and attendance for the Chinese market, with 80% and 78% citing lost exhibit sales and lost attendees from China, respectively.

But the impacts extended beyond China. As far as the tariffs' negative impact on booth sales, 48% of respondents have seen it hit their domestic exhibitors, 26% saw European Union exhibitors impacted and 22% saw the South-east Asian market affected.

Likewise, 38% saw an impact on attendees coming from the EU and US, and 34% saw their ASEAN attendees impacted, as well as those coming from Mexico (28%) and Canada (22%).

Observing the tariffs' impacts beyond China, CEIR CEO Cathy Breden commented, "Why is this issue of concern to our industry? (Because) US trade shows are a gateway to doing business in our country."

CEIR emphasised that government data tracking economic activity is slow to quantify the impact that these trade policies have on the economy, making these more immediate "pulse surveys" a valuable tool for understanding how the trade show market is being affected.

"Very careful attention was paid to designing a survey that objectively gauged executive sentiment about the impact of these trade tariffs on the US trade show industry," said CEIR vice president of research Nancy Drapeau.

"And as well, to determine if impacts have been felt at US trade shows that have taken place during the period that the trade war has been in play - in 2018 through July 2019."

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