Exhibition World Issue 5 - 2018 - Page 29

Analysis Battle ready Matthias Tesi Baur from MBB Media, a consultancy specialising in international trade shows, gauges industry opinion on the effects of disruption caused by trade wars. Matthias Tesi Baur MBB-Media www.mbb-media.com Trade wars are poison for our industry. I think this is a statement the majority would support. Exhibitions rely on free-trade, on a non-political platform for open discussion, on building relationships with customers, suppliers, partners and even competitors. To have the opportunity to trade without the constraints of suffocating red-tape, to conduct business in foreign regions without complex bureaucracy, and to have the opportunity of forging partnerships to break into new markets are the basic foundations for our industry. Developments that can impact the exhibition industry negatively are not new. We have been watching for a while how unable our governments are to find an organised and structured way for the United Kingdom to exit the EU and, equally how unable the remaining countries of the EU are w w w.exhibitionworld.co.uk to agree to common political sense amongst one another. However, as trade wars are not calculable and less predictable, they carry a much more dangerous element for our industry than developments such as Brexit. The d isruptive impact of new tariffs, sanctions and other business barriers can change entire industry ecosystems overnight with a direct impact to the trade shows, venues and suppling services that serve these affected industries. Talking to industry experts clearly shows a shift of opinion in the last weeks on how the current situation should be judged. Whilst a couple of months ago people hoped that politicians were only flexing their muscles and using the possibility of potential trade wars as part of their negotiations, we now know that this was not just a “Every closing door in a trading chain can open another door for somebody else to step in and fill the trading gap.” negotiation tactic. It has become reality, which means long-term industry disruption is more likely. The awareness is shifting from a scenario in which trade wars are a “short-term hiccup” to a wider opinion that trade wars can have a much more negative impact and even change industries completely in the long-term. A survey we recently conducted reveals that many industry players have now changed their behaviour on how to deal with the situation, from watching the global political Issue 5 2018 27