By  on November 23, 2005

Trade show organizers are planning for the future despite China's ongoing quota issues.

HONG KONG — Although there may be lingering uncertainty for the textile and apparel industries when it comes to China, industry insiders know China's importance will only continue to grow, and trade show producers are working to set up shop for the long term.

New to Asia is Prime Source, an international apparel forum and trade show that will launch March 28-April 1 at the new AsiaWorld-Expo, near the Hong Kong airport. Between 250 and 300 exhibitors and 6,000 to 10,000 visitors are expected, according to Hans Stoter, event manager.

The show, running March 29-April 1, will consist of garment and contract manufacturers, materials suppliers and service providers for things such as logistics and technology. The trade show also will host seminars with representatives from brands such as H&M and Nike.

But what will make the show stand out, according to Stoter, is its apparel forum. "Something like this doesn't exist, at least not here in Asia," Stoter said.

The apparel forum, which begins a day before the show on March 28 and lasts for two days, will include keynote speeches, sessions ("The Politics of Trade" and "The World Outside of China," for example), cocktail receptions and a gala dinner. Invited speakers include European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman.

Prime Source is "trying to relate to the industry that this is a very high-caliber forum, very senior," Stoter said.

According to Stoter, Prime Source is being designed with a buyer's perspective in mind, adding that they know larger buyers would like to see a full range of services offered. "The trend in the whole apparel industry is changing" to the point where "the factory has the pressure of providing the entire supply chain," he said. That would include providing services ranging from design to sourcing to logistics support.

The show is organized through a joint venture with APLF Ltd., which also does the Asia Pacific Leather Fair, and is managed by CMP Asia. The Asia Pacific Leather Fair — Materials, Manufacturing and Technology, the largest leather fair in the region, will run March 28-31 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. This year it had more than 27,000 visitors with 1,866 exhibitors from 63 countries and regions. A shuttle bus will run between APLF at the Convention Centre in Wanchai and the AsiaWorld-Expo, Stoter said.Although it may not seem like a fortuitous time to start an apparel show, the decision to have the first Prime Source in March depended very much on the quota safeguard issue, said Stoter.

After discussions with endorsing associations and individual consultants, Prime Source decided that, in order to help visitors and exhibitors make longer-term strategic sourcing decisions, it was best to postpone the show until 2006 in the hopes that quota issues might be settled.

"We don't know what the situation will be early next year, but we do hope the situation will be more clear so the industry can look forward again," Stoter said.

Another new show, China Sourcing Fair: Fashion Accessories, doesn't need to concern itself as much with the quota situation. Because of the product base, which includes bags, hats, scarves, gloves, sunglasses, hair accessories, socks, belts and umbrellas, quotas won't be much of an issue, with the exception of socks, said Sarah Benecke, director of Global Sources, the show's organizer.

The China Sourcing Fair will take place April 15-18 at the AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong, and organizers hope to have 800 booths and 12,000 to 15,000 visitors.

According to Benecke, the show for fashion accessories was born out of demand from customers. Buyers for garments, textiles and accessories already were going to Global Sources' Gifts and Home Products show, which offered home textiles, but they wanted more, particularly more specialization.

Seventy percent of the booths at the China Sourcing Fair will come from China, and will offer a wide selection of manufacturing abilities and prices. The show will "offer more China OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturers] than other shows," Benecke said.

The remaining 30 percent of booths will come from manufacturers in Taiwan and Hong Kong. These will bring better customer service, language skills and overall experience to the table because they have to justify themselves with their higher prices compared with China, Benecke said. Global Sources is working to bring exhibitors from India and Thailand, as well.

In addition to the trade show, China Sourcing Fair will offer vendor summits and a conference program. At the summits, a large company will meet with as many as 50 suppliers. After a 20-minute introduction period, buyers from the representative company will meet with individual suppliers to discuss specifics and find the best deals. It's "kind of a speed-dating thing," Benecke said. There will be about 10 summits a day and buyers won't be charged for the service, she added.The conference programs will consist of a mix of business basics — sourcing, trade, finance and logistics, for example — and product-focused presentations, with researchers discussing their findings of specific categories while putting together research reports that are published by Global Sources. The number of conferences hasn't yet been confirmed.

The China Sourcing Fair was organized to take place just before Phase I of the huge Canton Fair, which is slated for April 20-25. Now, according to Benecke, buyers can attend the specialized show and then go to the Canton Fair if they still need to.

Although this is a new show, Global Sources is no stranger to the industry. The company has been publishing garment, textile and accessories publications for the past 30 years. The group also has a popular Web site,, launched in 1996, that provides supplier and product information for buyers around the world.

Another longtime organizer of trade shows in Asia also is proceeding without much concern over the Chinese quota issue.

"At the present, we are not really affected [by quotas] as things haven't really been decided yet," said Annie Ma, group manager of trade fairs for Messe Frankfurt. "Because no conclusive decisions have been made, it is too early for us to see any direct effects."

A veteran of the Asian trade show market for 18 years, Messe Frankfurt is organizing three regional textile shows for the first half of 2006.

Interstoff Asia Spring, which will take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre March 22-24, usually draws about 266 exhibitors and more than 9,000 visitors with a gross area of 96,875 square feet.

Intertextile Beijing will take place March 28-30 at the Beijing Exhibition Center. Its 2005 show brought in 562 exhibitors from 18 countries and regions, and more than 17,000 visitors from 55 countries and regions toured the fair's gross area of 256,073 square feet.

Messe Frankfurt's Yarn Expo will occur from March 29-31 at the National Agricultural Exhibition Center in Beijing. This year, it boasted 121 exhibitors and almost 8,500 visitors in a 64,583-square-foot area.

Because all of Messe Frankfurt's shows serve as trading platforms for the entire region, and not just China, it doesn't expect much change in visitor numbers for 2006.

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